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My 89 years young mother needs help cleaning her apartment, a HUD facility for independent living. The majority of her neighbors are on Medicaid but, often to her disadvantage, her yearly income is barely above what it is to qualify. My mother often says "I'm probably one of the healthiest people in here." I tend to agree with her since she routinely takes but 3 prescription drugs per day, has pretty good mobility for her age & continues to drive within a one-mile radius. She has a positive energy & outlook on life. Her apartment reflects her personality as it is neat, welcoming & full of cheer. My mother rarely expresses anger but she certainly has done so with me as of late when I have offered help to clean her apartment. She is adamant about not wanting me to do some of the more tedious & thorough chores such as cleaning the bathroom or vacuuming. In one breath she bemoans the fact that some of her neighbors have the advantage of Medicaid assistance for a cleaning service but, in the next, refuses the same help I'm willing to do personally. We have always had a very close relationship: mother/daughter & best friends. If not I to aid her in a time she needs help, who? I've approached the subject maybe 4 times this past year but she's wearing me down. Mom loves her apartment, her independence & her neighbors. In the big scheme of life, is it worth pressing & upsetting her? She's happy & maybe that's enough.

Well, you can clean the bathroom when you go in there to use it..........but before you do, let mom know you have some gas cramps and may be a while. Then be sure to spray some Fabreeze in there to cover up the smell of your gas! Be creative, and then let go of it.

You are very, very, very fortunate to have such a positive mother. If it weren't for negative, ugly, horrible things to say about everything and everybody, my mother would be 100% silent. But hey, she was a fabulous housekeeper her whole life.
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For several years when I visited my dad I’d await his naps, he was a champion chair napper, and I’d quietly clean away! He didn’t like me cleaning, felt it was his job and couldn’t see the neglected areas. I also took advantage of him visiting with others who went with me to sneak away for a few minutes of cleaning. It wasn’t perfect but I learned to get a lot done in a few minutes here and there
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Another take on this. I hate housework. I got to hate it even more when I was raising a family and my ex did not think the kids should have chores, nor should he. Oh and I worked 6 days a week for 4 of the last 6 years of our marriage.

My mother would breeze in on my one day off and tell me she was there to help me move some dust. I am sorry, but no. The only way she wanted to spend time with me, is if I was doing housework on my one day off. She never appeared on the days I was working to rally the ex or the kids to clean the house, or work in the garden.

Once she decided to surprise me and catch up the laundry. Big surprise, she ruined my very few clothes that were suitable for my office job. My slacks were 3 inches too short, my wool sweater went through the dryer etc. Keep in mind I was working 6 days a week to keep the bills at bay, I could not afford to replace the clothes.

Oh and the kicker to this story, I discovered after my marriage ended that my mother had a secret creepy relationship with my ex. She 100% took his side when we separated and told me I should be homeless.

To give you an idea of how much of a trigger this topic is for me, I am crying as I write this.

OP if it is not a safety/health issue, just leave your Mum's housekeeping alone. If she wants help, she will ask for it.

Me, I found a wonderful woman who is helping me sort and declutter my home. It is a work in progress, but progress is happening and I am for the most part not being triggered.
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How about if you and Mom invite some of her friends for coffee or even lunch? That will give you a reason to “spruce things up”. Don’t say “clean”. She will want her home looking it’s best for her friends!
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AlvaDeer Oct 6, 2020
Ahmijoy, glad to see your name in print again!
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Leave Mom Alone!
It definitely is not worth bugging your mom about helping her clean up. Enjoy your times together and not look for the dirt.
When it comes time to die and you're on your death bed, one thing no one will be thinking or saying is...I wish I was a better house cleaner 😇
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cherokeegrrl54 Oct 13, 2020
Lol, this is awesome, made me laugh. My mom is 87 and in good health but she has slowed down a lot. We live in same apt facility (IL) and when i go down to help her dust or scrub her bathrooms and floors, she always wants to “help”. I always tell her to go rest, youve cleaned all your life now let me help you. Her excuse, youre in worse shape than i am.....physically thats correct, but i dont have osteoporosis and she does, so then she will go sit in her recliner. I do agree that they dont want us to think they cant do what they used to and we will “think bad” of them. Her apt is clean and tidy so i tell her mom dont sweat the small stuff!! We love each other and have been close all our lives. Im glad i still have her around since shes the last in her generation. Shes outlasted 10 brothers and sisters and their spouses. I always tell her shes gonna live to 100 like her mama did!! Liz
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Maybe approach it differently? I had a friend who was never a good housekeeper. When she moved to an apartment with her dog, it got worse and having health problems didn't help. She went to rehab and I suggested since her dog was in a kennel how about I clean her apartment. She agreed and said she wouldn't have normally, but it was the way I approached it. I and DH got her place spic and span. The dog smell was gone. I left her Swiffer products to make things easier for her.

Maybe say "Mom it must be hard getting down on your hands and knees scrubbing that tub. How about I do that for you?" Then just do the rest and say "I was already there, so no problem in doing it all" May be her vacuum is too much for her. I have one of those electric brooms. Very light weight. (battery powered ones just don't seem to have the power) Get her one and tell her a friend got one and she loves it. Maybe when she is out of the apartment, you can sneek in and do a good vacuuming. I love Swiffer stuff. I have their dry mop I use on my Pergo and bathroom floors. Dusters are great. Clorox wipes for wipe downs.
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This post hits too close to home.

Mother downsized from a 4000sf home to an 800 sf apartment attached to YB's home. That was when dad was alive, but bedridden.

Not the cleanest of homemakers--she has let this tiny apartment become hoarded out with so much junk I literally cannot be in it. She put up curtains 22 years ago and they have never been washed. Her recliner has been peed in dozens of times, as her cath bag will overflow and she doesn't feel anything. She just puts another blanket or afghan over the wet surface.

She won't throw anything away. Maybe one tiny bag of trash on trash day, and her bathroom trash (filled with soggy Depends) is allowed to be taken out only once a week. The smell is pretty bad and of course, flows over and into YB's home. She also has 2 feral cockatiels that add to the funk, and whenever they are let out to 'exercise' they poop on everything.

A few years ago I made a serious attempt to clean--really clean and although she ASKED me to do so--it was an epic fail and I don't do anything anymore. She allowed very few things to even be touched, and if you can't throw out a completely dead plant or give 50 puzzles to GoodWill, then there's kind of no hope.

The only thing I do now is maybe water the desiccated plants and run a broom around the birdcage. I washed the windows this year and she argued with me the whole time saying I'd just barely washed them (5 years ago).

IF I go visit, I stay in the 'common' living room and do not enter her apartment. My heart aches for my SIL who has this smell to deal with all the time.

We have to accept that our parents may just not want the 'hassle' of us being there, touching their stuff. IDK, really.

You may well find the pushback on cleaning that I did. I tried to be kind and not intrusive and clean for sanitary purposes as well as organizational ones--but she fought me on 22 years of TV Guides and 40 (!) years of Publisher's Clearing House envelopes. (We did get those stored, for the love of heaven...that's when I knew we weren't going to win the battle--when those stupid PCH envelopes meant more to her than a safe, clean environment. (BOXES of those sitting out in the open--like PCH is going to need to see the envelope the entry came in!)

I think, for me, the worst part is that people go to see her and see and smell her place and blame ME for not keeping her place cleaner. I LOVE to deep clean (someone else's mess) but she will NOT allow it.

I'd say it's age--but my MIL's place is so clean you'd think is was staged. Not a single paper out of place, and smells clean and fresh. It's not an age-thing.
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elaine1962 Oct 9, 2020
Your right. It’s not an age thing. It’s a mental illness thing. The last time my mothers house has been cleaned is when I cleaned it right before my father died in 1998. Somehow she manages to clean the toilet and sink. But that’s it and she won’t let me help.

I stay out of it. It’s her house, it’s her mess. You can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped.
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mintrbl, my Mom was the same way, I wouldn't dare get out the vacuum or dusting cloth, she would be highly insulted thinking she wasn't able to keep her home spotless. She came from the era of the "white glove test" and homes should be ready in case Better Homes & Gardens wanted to do a photo shoot.

I remember one time I wanted to gift my Mom one day cleaning crew, but that idea when over like a lead balloon. No strangers in the house !!!

My late ex-father-in-law lived with his family in a wooden shack out in the middle of no where. The bathroom was the narrow path out back to the half-moon structure. I noticed pop bottles under the sofa, apparently kicked under there when visitors pulled in the driveway. In winter, an extra log was placed in the pot bellied stove.

I overlooked the "mess" as the family was warm and friendly, would drop whatever they were doing..... one of the grown kids would run to a neighbor's house to use the phone to call his siblings to say we were visiting, and within minutes they were at the house. The conversations were filled with love and laughter :)

Thus, not worth pressing the issue for your own Mom, unless you start seeing soda bottles under the sofa :)
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97yroldmom Oct 9, 2020
FF
Such a sweet post.
Hugs
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My Mom's attitude and teaching was always "Keep things really neat and they will never know you don't clean up much". My bro followed in her footsteps; a gorgeous place, but under the beds the dust bunnies played. She accepted my offered help when it was difficult for her to bend and vacuum; I hired someone in weekly for those jobs. My bro would not; he has happy with the bunnies and everyone entering his place just in love with his decorating and pottery collection. I wouldn't worry it much if I were you. You can try to tease her into something like "Would you kill me if I ran a vacuum over the living room" or "Is it worth my life to scrub out the tub for you?" and if she gets mad just back up with your hands raised. What a delight your Mom sounds.
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mintrbl Oct 6, 2020
Your response is reassuring, Alva Deer. I have approached the issue similarly, weighing how I word my offer. Still she gets her back against the wall although most recently I answered for her with how she does typically & we laughed it off. I don't, as I always have, want to hurt her feelings. It is my belief that it is the relationships we have formed in our lives that matter most when all is said-&-done. To your last comment about my mother, I can not even begin to tell you how many times she has gotten me through some very difficult times with such positivity. Smiles come easily for her, she's witty, most often laughs at herself & sees the best in people. My mother truly is an amazing woman!
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Absolutely it is not worth pressing and upsetting her. Don't! (I know you wouldn't dream of it.)

But it would be good to know what she has against a little cheerfully-volunteered help. Has she said anything at all about what her objection is?
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Midkid58 Oct 13, 2020
I don't know if you are talking to me--but I'll answer anyhow.

Mother was never a stellar housekeeper, but was able to get us kids to do 90% of the housework that was absolutely necessary.

I think she is 'noseblind' and 'sightblind' to the messes. It's not really filthy in the sense that APS would ever step in, but it is FAR from clean.

Cheerful volunteering has gotten me kicked out on my behind more than once. Problem is, she cannot differentiate between real things of value and garbage. She had photos of family tacked to the walls all over the place--I took them and put them in collage frames and tidied up THAT mess, also cleaned out her kitchen table which is jam packed with papers and mess--YB came in while I was working and said "Come back in 2 weeks, you'll see how futile this work has been". Sure enough, 2 weeks after this, she had taped MORE photos on the collage frames and the table was once again jampacked with paper garbage. She now has a 'SKYLIGHT" which if she could turn it on, would show family pictures all day. And there'd be no need for all the picture frames on the walls. Lost that battle, too.

For all my thoughtful efforts she now refers to me as the 'cleaning Nazi'--which I am not....but it frustrates me how dirty she can let her place be...I haven't made any efforts to do anything but wash her opaque front windows. They were so dirty she could not see out of them and she spends much of her day watching the neighbors.

She'll let YB's daughters sort of swiffer the floor, but no one else is allowed to do anything. I give up.
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