What activities and or chores can Mom safely do around the house?


Mom really would like to help around the house, but due to her balance issues, (she does use a walker) I get very nervous when she tries to help. She likes to do the dishes and clean the kitchen. My biggest fear is when she inevitably walks away from her walker. The kitchen table is a pedestal table, so when she leans on it, it could lead to a fall. Watching her dust is scary, too, as when she starts to reach away from her, she gets very unsteady. While I appreciate her wanting to help, I am having a tough time coming up with things she can safely do!

For a while, she was helping to fold the laundry, but since her motor skills are so bad and I had to re-fold everything. I started doing laundry on the day she's with my sister. That's really selfish isn't it? It would mean a lot to her to do it, then I can take it upstairs and re-fold it all.

I have been feeling like I'm not the good person I used to think I was. Then, there are days that I know that I'm doing the best I can, taking care of Mom, my family, and working full time. I find myself not being very patient, rolling my eyes behind her back, and need to find a way to overcome this. Any suggestions?

Thanks in advance for your help!

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I just remembered the second best thing she does for me -- trims the green beans. It's time-consuming for me and she's got the time. If the person can't safety handle a knife, scissors also work. Anything that requires tedious but simple trimming seems to work-out, basically.
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I forgot to mention that my mom is responsible for getting all her laundry into her laundry basket for laundry day but is not supposed to touch the basket to lift it. Having her get her things into it is helpful, but we don't want her to fall, so we lift the laundry basket when we want it. She is able to strip her bed as she kind of sits on it as she strips it.

This might sound odd, but the most helpful thing she does for me is to shout at me when the laundry buzzes goes. She usually sits close to the laundry room. I usually am running around the house. To get it all done, I like to know when the buzzer goes off so that I can immediately handle those clothes. Since she's close, she'll shout out that it's gone off and she'll do that until I respond that I heard her. With the extra laundry I have from her, you won't believe how incredibly helpful this is!

Mom monitors the bathrooms. If she sees one is almost out of TP or toothpaste or whatever, she'll replace that or will tell me we're on the last one.
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When you come up with ideas for your mom, remember that your time is important. Don't plan to redo things. Just let it go as it is. If she clips coupons and you think she's missing some, just think that you've had someone do a little work for you and the coupons you miss are your payment for doing it and in it not taking your own time.
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My mom also has terrible balance and no stamina to stand for long, so our plans for her to dust or dustmop quickly became clear that they wouldn't work out.

I have my mom folding the laundry and have given up caring about how it looks. She is not great at matching socks and I do have to redo that part. If you're wanting your laundry folded quite nicely, I would just give up on that. My issue is that I have more to do with her so, I no longer worry about having the laundry so nicely folded. We're all busy in this household and if something has to fall by the wayside, I feel not at all guilty about badly-folded laundry (versus more important things like getting meals on the table and keeping things clean).

I have my mom sewing but her eyesight isn't great. Even with a needle-threader, there are some days when she needs my help threading needles. Our deal is that we have a LOT of needles, I do them all at once, and she tries to work independently for the rest of the sewing. She mends things and sews on buttons.

Rarely, I do get the opportunity to stuff and stamp envelopes for a group I belong to and I volunteer for that mainly so she can press the stamps on, which is helpful to the group and does make her feel good.

I work with a group that sews tote bags for wheelchairs and sick people. My mom also sews, so I asked my mom if she'd like that. Initially, she hated the idea of making something nice and giving it to a stranger but she's warmed up to the idea and, as I write this, she is probably stitching away.

If we agree my mom will do something where she can sit, but it's not in a steady place or at a place that's too high, I just take a wooden chair to where she'd sit. Usually, she needs to put things down, so I put her next to an endtable. Occasionally, I'll bring a fold-up table to her.

If you clip coupons, let her do it. Don't worry that you'll miss some, just generally tell her what to look for and if you end up missing a couple, it's probably still freeing you up to do something else, so it's worth the $1 or so that might get missed.

Sorting anything: for example, if you're going to be buying a chocolate bunny and candy egg and etc... for quite a few kids in the family, when you get it home, hand it to her and have her sort it all. When you're ready to assemble the Easter baskets, it's all in piles and you just load it all, basket-by-basket. Or, at Christmas, if you by a body lotion for each family member and a fancy bar of soap to go with it and a body wash to match and it's in one bag, have her sort that out.
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The eye-rolling, impatience, feeling selfish.....all the good personality traits of a caregiver!

Of course you don't want your mom to do things around the house when her balance is bad and she may topple over at any minute. And using non-stationary objects (like a table) to brace oneself is a PT no-no. As you said, the table could go right over with her.

Can she wipe down the counters with a rag and some Windex or something and still use her walker? As long as she stays inside her walker she can grab the handles if she starts to feel unbalanced and just drag the walker along with her as she goes.

I understand why dusting would be a problem. Getting to those hard to reach areas may be dangerous for her. What if your removed all of her things off of her dresser and ask her to dust her dresser? If it's at waist level and she has her walker she could dust the dresser.

You might have to think outside the box, come up with some things that your mom can do. Create some work for her so she can feel helpful. Work where she can have her walker with her. How about setting the table for dinner? Get some oranges from the store and have her make fresh squeezed orange juice. She can do this sitting at the table. Peeling carrots for dinner?

My dad had a need to feel useful as well but being my dad he wasn't really into the whole homemaker thing so I would ask his advice and opinion on things. Parenting tips. Current events. Little issues that come up in everyday life like car questions or job-related questions. He really enjoyed sharing his experiences with me.
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Roxanne, my MIL aide has her fold a pile of rags while she is trying to get some things done. It doesnot matter how they turn out.....it makes her feel useful and that she has accomplished something. Can she match socks? Fold washcloths?
Does she like word search puzzles (if still can do).
Don't be hard on yourself..... you have done nothing wrong and are doing te best you can.... I find myself rolling my eyes too... its frustration and fatigue.......
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