• Family

    When to Leave Household Chores to Others – Tips for Seniors

    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.

  • Family

    What is Considered Reasonable in Different Cultures?

    For many American families, the focus has switched from the 60s view of family at home spending time together to now where we try to pack as much into our lives as possible. In the same manner, when we host a foreign exchange student, we want to give them every possible experience, opportunity, participation in activities, travel, etc. Where is the appropriate place to draw the line? That is a key question that you must consider when planning your year with your new exchange student!

    Balance is key. America is about family, so time spent together eating meals or playing games is very important for the true “American” experience that these kids are seeking. Drawing the line of what you are doing, willing to do, want to do, are able to do is going to be different to every family, as lifestyles vary so much. The thing is that you should not expect to, or think that it is expected of you, to add extra travels, events, or time/financial burdens just because you are hosting a student from abroad! Live your life! The expectations in our agency for extracurricular activity travel provisions or extras of any kind are “reasonable”. You will quickly become burnt out if you try to overdo things to make your student’s experience the best time in their lives. It already is an amazing experience! Having you open your home and allow them the opportunity to live a dream, and having the freedom from parents and their normal lives. Being here is a privilege, and yes, I do more than is expected, but that is my choice and I am okay with that. These wonderful kids are supposed to be treated as a member of your family, not a special guest! Keep that in mind when face with the “can I” or “can you take me” questions. Consider how you would handle that situation with your own child.

    Prior to arriving, and at the initial orientation with their area coordinator, they are told the host family responsibilities. It should be made crystal clear that while you are willing to support them in extracurricular activities, if travel requirements are excessive, they have to share the burden and find another option such as car pooling or finding rides with teammates. Grades are often a good way to balance activities as well. Foreign exchange students are expected to maintain a certain grade average in order to stay in their program. These are government standards, and are not taken lightly. If your student is struggling to maintain that GPA, consider cutting back or questioning their ability to handle the added burden of an activity.

    Again, being here is a huge honor. This is American life, which is what they want to experience. You do not have to try to make it better or over the top to impress the exchange students. Our natural children do not have the freedom or liberties that many foreign children have for several reasons. We typically live in more suburban areas that do not have public transportation that many of these kids utilize as their main source of transportation. Also, we tend to be more cautious when parenting, while many other countries afford much more independence to their kids. Their schools operate completely differently than ours do, and this in and of itself can create issues. (Honestly, I like the schedules that the European students follow as well as their teaching methods.) The family dynamics are different as well. Always look into the cultural norms from the country in which you choose a student. Look at their application closely to get a glimpse or idea of what they are used to at home. Trying to match the student that lives a lifestyle more similar to yours may help make things easier.

    I cannot say it enough. Balance, patience, and being yourself are the best things that you can do for your exchange student. Communicate what you are willing to do, and remind your student that when you have reached the limit you set, finding additional rides is their responsibility. Flexibility is key for everyone involved, but it is the adult’s responsibility to set the tone of the relationship, the boundaries of the home, and to enforce the rules. Teens, even more-so than toddlers are desperate for boundaries, no matter how hard they try to push or defy them. Boundaries and rules equal security and a sense of safety! Be firm, but loving, and take care of you during the process!