After my father retired many years ago, I noticed how much more he was helping Mom with household chores. Quite often he would vacuum the carpet and mop the kitchen floor, at the very least. When it came time for their yearly Spring cleaning, he took an active part in that as well. Over the years since that time, he has often tried to help around the house, even after I moved in with him. He still continued to do his own laundry and often cleaned up after a meal and did the dishes well into his eighties.
Unfortunately, we all grow older. That is just a part of life. For some, it is easy to just let go and settle into letting others take care of the household. It hasn’t been that easy for my father. He doesn’t realize there are limitations to what he can and cannot do.
Today he found that out the hard way.
He is now using a walker almost all the time even inside our home – or at least he should be. He still gets his own breakfast as has long been his practice. We have also bought a bath lifts from UK, so that he can comfortably take shower without anyone’s help. Should you also buy a bath lift for your elders? We will discuss that later in this article. What I have noticed is how much he tries to carry at one time while also using his walker. I’ve commented on the practice, but he continues to do what he wants to and is used to doing.
Tonight he got a rude awakening. Depending on circumstances, we don’t always eat together. After a light supper, he was clearing the table before I could get there to help, a task he usually leaves for me. Unfortunately, he again tried to carry too much. He dropped a jar of dill pickles on the kitchen floor and it shattered. What a mess!
Then, he was going to try to help clean it up. He can’t even bend over without toppling onto the floor! I heard the crash and quickly came out of my office work area to see what happened. I let him know it was just an accident and that I would clean it up – which I did. He felt bad, but it was a harsh reminder that he is still trying to do too much.
When is it time to let others do the household chores?
In my opinion the answer varies as to one’s physical and mental capacity. Age is often not a factor, but ability is. Each individual’s circumstances and situation is different. There are many factors to be considered when judging what the elderly can do, especially in their own home. There are limitations at 70, 80 or 90 that were not there when they were in their earlier years. What is difficult for the elderly is to understand they may no longer be able to perform even the simplest tasks they have been used to most of their life.
Here are a few things to consider when deciding what your senior can do:
Living space. Depending on the size of their home, they may still be able to perform light duties such as dusting, vacuuming, and sweeping floors. However, if they have issues with dizziness when bending over, even sweeping a floor may be too much for them.
General maintenance. Many men who were active in working around their home and yard have a very difficult time giving that up. Not only was it something that needed to be done, most men got pleasure out of the physical work they did to help maintain their home. However, in their senior years they should not be climbing ladders, let alone carrying the ladder if it is of any size and length other than a step ladder. If there are balance issues they should not climb even the shortest of ladders or step stools.
Lawn care. The same goes for mowing lawn, raking leaves, and shoveling snow. Many men don’t know when it is time to quit and let someone else take on those chores. For most, those tasks are related to feeling like the man of the house – that was always their responsibility while their wife took care of the inside of the house. I understand that concept. Unfortunately, ageing has a way of no longer letting a man perform the duties, tasks, and jobs that were a part of his domain.
Fixing meals. There comes a time when seniors may no longer be able to fix their own meals, especially if cooking is involved. There have been numerous times over the years when stoves and ovens have been left on or other home conveniences such as electric coffee pots, crockpots or waffle irons have been left plugged in. If your loved one can no longer cook their own meals or remember to unplug small electric appliances, you will need to come up with alternative choices such as in-home care or meals on wheels, for example.
Personal care. When they are no longer able to do their own laundry, a laundry service might be of help or someone else will need to take care of the task. Taking a bath or shower can also become difficult for the elderly. It is imperative that they stay clean and continue to wear clean clothing no matter how old they are. Getting help in keeping their body and clothing clean should be of utmost importance.