Your mom struggles to do all of the housework. Joint pain makes it hard for her to hold cleaning tools like dusters and scrub brushes. You’ve heard that caregivers can help with light housekeeping. What does that mean? Are there housekeeping tasks that elder care services don’t cover?
The Common Definition of Light Housekeeping
Most elder care agencies define light housekeeping as routine chores that keep the house clean, safe, and organized. It includes tasks like dusting, emptying trash and recyclables, sweeping/mopping floors, and vacuuming. Tidying clutter is another task that falls into the realm of light housekeeping.
If your parents have houseplants and often forget to water them, a caregiver can do that for them or remind them to do it. Caregivers can turn on air purifiers, make beds, change sheets, and switch used towels for clean ones. In the bathroom, they can wipe down surfaces with a disinfectant and clean the toilet.
Laundry is another chore that can be done as part of a light housekeeping package. It includes washing and drying clothes, linens, and towels. It can include ironing, if that’s needed, and putting items away in drawers and closets.
A very cluttered, and dirty house should be cleaned by your family first. Don’t expect the caregiver to come in and clean up months or years of mess. A good rule is that only 20 percent of a caregiver’s time should be spent on household chores.
Are There Chores Caregivers Don’t Help With?
Caregivers may be willing to do certain tasks that others won’t. In general, don’t expect caregivers to mow the lawn or weed gardens. They may sit outside and watch your parents as they weed, but they’re not usually going to do landscaping chores for families.
Most caregivers do not wash windows or do chores that involve climbing a ladder such as painting, clearing spiderwebs from beams, or clearing gutters. They’re not going to clean your parents’ cluttered basement, garage, or attic unless there is a room in those areas that your parents use each day, such as a bedroom.
If they’re cooking meals for your parents, you cannot show up with your children and expect the caregiver to cook for all of you. If you cook a meal, don’t expect the caregiver to do your dishes and clean up after you. The caregiver is there for your parents.
If there are tasks your mom cannot do independently that would help her, ask an elder care agency for advice. You might find that even though it doesn’t fit your definition of light housekeeping, caregivers may be willing to help.