For seniors, each passing year brings a new ache or pain, making everyday tasks like cleaning the house more difficult.
Even though Joanne Fisher, 73, of Grove City, Pa., boasts that she still scrubs her floors on her hands and knees, she’s also quick to admit she’s made some concessions.
“I used to be a cleaning fanatic, but these days, I do it when I feel like it,” she says.
“You need to relax your standards.”
Mynde Turner, an occupational therapist in Pennsylvania, says that Fisher has the right idea.
“Know your limits,” Turner says. “A spotless house hardly matters if you’re too sore and exhausted to enjoy it.”
Turner, whose goal is to help seniors continue to live safely in their homes, offers up great suggestions for simplifying household chores.
Making the bed made simple
In the bedroom, Turner says to forget how you learned to unfold clean sheets from detergent commercials. Unfolding rather than shaking sheets out conserves energy, and saves wear and tear on joints, especially shoulders, knees and hips, she says.
“There’s no need to grab the corners and wave them up and down in the air,” she says. “You can open them just as well by simply unfolding them.”
When making the bed, complete one half at a time.
“Pull up the sheets, then straighten the spread and pillows on one side before moving to the opposite side,” she says. “This way, you’ve reduced four trips around the bed to one.”
Use a wooden pizza paddle to tuck in sheets and blankets, says the Arthritis Foundation. This helps eliminate the need to bend over.
Lighten your laundry load
If your washer and dryer are in the basement, consider moving them to the first floor, if possible. Otherwise, instead of carrying a laundry basket downstairs, pack it in a bag and roll it down the stairs. Turner also recommends laundering smaller loads and sitting on a stool while folding clothes.
Tweaks in the kitchen
In the kitchen, smaller garbage cans fitted with smaller bags can lighten the load on your muscles and joints when toting the trash out to the curb, Turner says. When washing dishes, move a stool right up to the sink so you can sit down.
Ask for help
Turner encourages people to know when to ask for help.
“Depending on your resources, having outside help come in periodically to do the tough stuff is great,” she says. “Family members, friends and neighbors can be a good source of support, too.”
If you choose a cleaning service, plan to pay according to the size of your home and the job that needs to be done. Also, get an estimate before agreeing to the service.
One way to keep the rate more affordable is to tidy up beforehand so you’re not paying someone to pick up your socks off the floor.
Fisher says she’s comfortable with trusting the occasional large job to the professionals.
“I pay someone to wash the windows,” she says. “They get them just as clean as I once did, and it’s worth every penny to me.”