Mom has Macular Degeneration and does not realize how dirty her house is.

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I'm new to this site although not new to computers and researching on them! I'm a caregiver, can you tell?!!! My mom is 90, extremely independent, has been a widow for 35 years on Dec. 5th. She has macular degeneration and glaucoma but can still read in the daytime with lots of magnification and light. (We bought her a VideoEye about 10 years ago which is helpful.) She would "die" if she knew how dirty most parts of her house are now. Has always kept an almost immaculate house. Her master bath toilet was so filthy but I never dare clean something that takes me away for too long because she says, "What are you doing?" She's always very defensive when I tell her something needs to be cleaned or I am "caught" cleaning something. "I just cleaned that the other day, or I clean this on Thursdays, or I can't believe how quick these things get so dusty, etc."
I tell my sister but she has the same problem of getting "caught" if gone too long. When we were all their to put up her Christmas tree, I told my sister to start cleaning the toilet then I would take over so we weren't gone long! We don't want to hurt her feelings!
I try to go when it's at least two of us there so we can do like that but it's not always possible. I say things like, "I know you are having trouble seeing things like this, so let me help..." what do other suggest? Thanks! (Her grown grandchildren don't even want to eat there anymore unless we take something and use paper plates). I'm an RN and I tell them, cooking will kill the germs and you can bring your own utensils! LOL. She did let me clean her kitchen sinks real well when she was going to prepare some food for Thanksgiving. I tell her to run her hand all in the sink after she cleans because if it's all slick she has most likely gotten it clean. She did tell me she did that on some things. YAY!


For years I suggested that my parents get someone in to clean the house. It finally happened when my Dad was in a car accident and the insurance company covered someone coming in for five week to clean. After that they were hooked!

What you may want to try, is get the family together and give your Mom a Christmas gift of a cleaning lady/service for 3 to 6 months. She might just get hooked too! Also, our cleaning lady is lovely and she is good company while in the house.
If it is any comfort, your problem is very common. I'm glad your mother is still able to be on her own and that she is independent and stubborn -- I plan to be that way myself! (I'm not going to be stubborn about letting people clean. There have been few periods in my life when I haven't had a cleaning person, so at least I'll be reasonable about that.) But, golly, you want her to live in a clean environment.

Would she be any more receptive to a "professional" cleaning service? This would be on the basis of what she "deserves" after all these years of doing all the housework, and not what she "needs." It is time she retires from some of the tasks, and you can get her a terrific cleaning person. It is not that she can't do a good job ... it is just that she deserves a little pampering.

Can she still enjoy an afternoon or evening out, perhaps a restaurant or shopping, etc? If you and your sister can take turns taking her out and the other one doing some cleaning while she is gone that might reduce the friction. But, really, I think bringing in a hired cleaner is the best bet. When you are there you should be playing cribbage or looking at old photo albums or gossiping about neighbors and relatives -- not scrubbing her toilet. Anybody can get the house clean. Only you and your sister can be loving daughters spending quality time with Mom.

As you come up with solutions that work or at least help, come back and let us know ... we learn from each other!
Thank you Gem and Jeanne. We can forget about a cleaning service or individual coming in! Myself, I love it when my husband says on special occasions or because family from Europe are coming to stay for weeks... "Hire someone to clean!" I am home everyday and work from home when I have time, inclination and clients so I don't really want or need someone to clean because I can do it.

She has a 92 year old cousin that has a lady come and "sit" with her (not sure just what her job is because the cousin is still able to do many things), and momma always asks her, "What does she do? I couldn't stand to have somebody come to my house that time of the morning and be there in my house all day!"

We're always taking momma out to eat, or like this past Sunday afternoon, to the civic ballet where my 4 year old granddaughter was a little sheep, and always to church when she can. She loves to go to the "Dollar" store so we make that trip when I take her to the hairdresser or for blood tests. Her painful arthritic knees prevent a lot of walking and she's too proud at this time to even think about a wheelchair for occasional transport! Certainly we do try to do as you suggest and one of us go over and do a little cleaning while the other one is taking her somewhere but my sister is 10 years younger than me and she works FT and is on her feet most of the workday so it's not as easy for her to get over there then. If the three local granddaughters try to do anything she always balks at it because they are "so busy with their little children, or going to college and working, etc. etc." I reassure her that they are still very young and can and WANT to do these things because they love her so much. She says, "I'm always thinking of them and worrying about them and they're thinking about me..."

So I say, "Bless their hearts, all of our elderly parents!" I try to put myself in her place 25-30 years from now, a place we all will be at some point if we live long enough.

Thank you SO much for your input and support. WOW! I'm lovin' this site!
Sherrycare: Enjoy her while you can. She sounds just like my mom! Up until 8 weeks ago at 95 she was still going out to the buffet with me and washing clothes! Mine and my husband's included, since she has been living with us all our married life (my 2nd husband, 21 yrs). She would run upstairs the minute she heard us leave so she could do our dishes! Like your mom her sight was going, so of course I had to rewash or put them in the dishwasher. She always felt she needed to do work. (It was a sin to sit, according to her father). Well Oct 1st everyting changed., She suddenly started seeing people and animals. Screaming that men were coming in the house, etc. She was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia. They told me it was a very "fast" type of dementia. I had to put her in a nursing home and I am lost without her here. She has her good days but her bad days are increasing. She always use to bleach things and so many of my clothes have been ruined, but all I could say is "they're clothes, I can buy new ones". I knew the day would come when I would loose her, but never ever in my thoughts did I think I would loose her to dementia! When she use to say I'm forgetting too much, I'm getting worried about this, I would tell her not to worry, she was too old to have ALZ. I'd say, Mom if you don't have it my 95 you're never gonna have it, and I'd smile. Now I see my mom sitting there, forgetting what we did the day before, knowing something is very wrong with her mind. It breaks my heart and I cry every day. So I agree with you: Bless their hearts! I thank God she had her mind as long as I did. I love her so much and I cherish the good days she has. I just hope she can have peace soon. I too am thankful for this site.
Nanieine, Jeanne is very well versed in Lewey Body, so I hope she jumps in again. Huge wealth of knowledge there.
I wish my mother had been more like yours and Sherry's. They sound like treasures.
I was going to suggest the sneak cleaning, as Jeanne did. My brother and I have done this in the past for my parents. Its not often enough to keep the place as clean as I'd like it, but they don't even notice when its done!
I would tell her the truth in a delicate honest manner. I feel family needs to know they can trust you even with the little things. My Gmom is 91 recently placed in a nursing home where she does not want to be but most of us have no say on her care. When I am with her I tell her the truth about any subject. She forgets and I'll repeat. I want her to know always that she can tell me anything and I'll have her back. Just like we tell children so they are not afraid to tell parents any serious problems if they happen. Honesty is always best.
Honesty is always best ... except when it isn't. :) It often is not best when the person has dementia. It sometimes is not best when the person has impairments (such as vision loss) and is in denial, or denial about the consequences, such as having a filthy toilet. Maybe delicately telling Mom that "you can't really see well enough to keep your place clean" will help her accept it. Or maybe it will crush her to know her daughters don't think her place is clean, and maybe she will then be reluctant to open up to them. Maybe.

Older people are really not just like children, even if they have regressed in some ways to child-like behavior. Eight or nine decades of life experience do make a difference!

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