What do you do when your parents won’t let you clean? Helping elderly parents who fear losing independence can be tricky.
Autonomy and aging are at odds with each other. So, how do you care for a senior who refuses help with cleaning?
You want to support mom and dad as they get older, but how?
Listen: When Your Parents Won’t Let You Clean
Watch: When Your Parents Won’t Let You Clean
Hey there, I’m Angela Brown, and this is Ask a House Cleaner. This is a show where you get to ask a house cleaning question, and I get to help you find an answer. You can find this and 400 other answered questions in this series on our YouTube channel.
When Your Parents Won’t Let You Clean
What do you do when your parents won’t let you clean? A house cleaner wrote into the show and asked, “I want to help my parents clean what my parents won’t let me, what do I do?”
Well, this is a tough subject because it’s going to involve everyone at some point. At some point, we are going to become those parents that don’t want other people to come clean for us.
House Cleaners are Part of Client’s Lives for Years
We get to see this a lot in house cleaning because we are inside other people’s homes, and we get to be a part of their lives, often for years. And then during that year of cleaning for them, they change, and they change because they get older.
And as they get older, their personality shifts a little bit. As the personality shifts, they lose part of their independence, so they start fighting for more independence.
And so, the person that was always nice to us and offering us a cup of tea or whatever it is when we came, they’re now a little bit short. And they might be snippy, and a little irritable.
You Have to Realize it’s Not Them
You have to realize it’s not them, there’s not the essence of their soul. This is a survival technique. These people are fighting for their independence and they know that they’re getting older, they know that they are not as able to do things that they once were.
So, when you go to parents and you say, “Hey, I would like to help you,” it comes from the goodness of your heart. We have to also realize that they have their own right to try to be independent as long as they want. Or as long as they think they are able, or as long as they physically can.
So one of the hardest lessons that we have to learn in housecleaning, and this is general house cleaning, not your parents is that when we go to a person’s house there’s something we want for them.
What You Want and What They Want is Different
You can walk into someone’s house, a house you’ve never seen before, and in the back of your mind, you know exactly what you want to do inside the house. But that may not be exactly what they want to be done inside their house.
There’s this fine line of what do you want for them, and what do they want for themselves? And you can’t cross that barrier as a professional. Because they are hiring you, this is as a professional when you go into their home, you have to respect their wishes. And so, when they say, “No, we’re not going to do that,” then the answer is, “No, we’re not going to do that.”
Even though you think your way is better, because you know what you know, it’s not their way. And when all is said and done, you get to leave, but they have to live inside the house with the rules and regulations, and with the way that they wanted it to be after you’re gone.
You Have to Realize That the Customer Gets Their Way
So, as a house cleaner, you have to realize that it’s not you that gets to have your way, but it’s the customer who is right. When you go to your parents’ house and your parents are like, “We don’t want you to clean anything,” maybe they don’t. And that’s going to be one of the hardest things that you have to accept.
There are parents that don’t want to be a burden, and so they’ll come out with things like, “Oh, that’s not important, I don’t want that done. Just leave it alone, don’t touch that.” They do need help, they do wish that it was done. They do wish they had the time to do it, and the strength, and the energy, and the resources, and all that stuff, but they don’t want to be a burden to you.
And it’s because they know that you’ve got a family, have a job, and you’re busy.
They Want to Remove Your Burden
So, they say things like that so that it removes the burden from them to you. And what you need to remember is your heart is in a good place, and your parents’ heart is in a good place, so if you’re trying to help your parents out and your parents won’t let you, there’s this fine line where you have to say, “Okay, that’s fine.”
The best thing you might be able to do is to sit down and visit with them. Spend some time with them, and don’t judge them that their house is not as tidy or as neat as you want it to be.
There are a lot of parents, especially as they get older and especially as their health starts to slip, there are things that maybe they put in the wrong place, or they forget to hang something up, or they lose their car keys, or they go into a room and they forget why they’re there.
There’s a Fine Line When Helping Your Parents
There are always clues, and there’s a fine line where you have to step in and help your parents. And you have to say, “Okay, because you are unable, I want to be able to help you.” Again, there’s this fine line, and you have to let them be independent to the very last minute, even if it kills you.
Because that is a way to honor them and let them do as much as they can for themselves, which gives them purpose. And then when it comes a time that they are unable, you have to be right there, ready to catch them if they fall.
Lovingly, as they caught you as a child, you have to catch them and help them be the best person that they can be. Or the best version of themselves that they can be, with your guided help and not forceful.
Don’t Clean Too Much Without Their Approval
Don’t be ripping the whole house apart, and renovating everything, and all that stuff, without their approval. Now, there are times that you’re going to have to have conversations. For example, let’s say that your parents are getting elderly and you’re going to need to put a wheelchair ramp up to their house.
That’s going to require a lot of money. It’s going to require some time, and it’s going to require some home renovations. And so the object of that is to do that before the day comes so that the day doesn’t come when you’re like, “Oh, you’re old and you need a wheelchair ramp,”
But to guide them up to that moment and say, “Hey, the day will come when you will need a wheelchair ramp. And I’d love to get that set up for you right now.” While they’re young and youthful, and able for you to ease them into the process so that when that moment happens and you come home with the wheelchair. Well, the ramp has already set up and it’s a smooth transition.
Don’t Frighten or Frustrate Them About it
That way it’s not frightening, or frustrating. And they don’t feel like there they are in the wheelchair and the whole house is being renovated and ripped up. It’s a lot of change when there’s already a lot of change going on.
And so, if you can kind of ease them through that process and you can go as far as you can go gracefully, that would be best. You wanting to help comes from the best of intentions. But make sure that you honor your parents because they’re doing the best they can. And this is anybody’s parents. If you’re a professional house cleaner, and they’re not your parents, they are somebody’s parents.
It’s Hard for Elderly People to Ask for Help
So stop for a second, say, “That could be my mom, that could be my dad,” and show a little bit of extra respect because they’re doing the best that they can.
And sometimes one of the hardest things for elder folks to do is ask for help. And they don’t want to ask for help, but sometimes they have to.
As a professional, that’s why you’re there. You’re there to make that transition smooth for them.Resources
These good karma links connect you to Amazon.com and affiliated sites that offer products or services that relate to today’s show.
When you click on the links and buy the items you pay the exact same prices or less than if you found the links on your own elsewhere. The difference is that we make a small commission here at the show for sharing these links with you.
Tips for Helping Your Aging Parents: (without losing your mind) – https://amzn.to/32IGY63
The Caregiving Season: Finding Grace to Honor Your Aging Parents – https://amzn.to/2O6Boqa
Surviving the STRESS of Your Parents’ Old Age – https://amzn.to/2O7AcT9
The 5 Essential People Skills: How to Assert Yourself, Listen to Others, and Resolve Conflicts – https://amzn.to/2zSj3b9
Emotional Intelligence 2.0 – https://amzn.to/34Fgt2x
Permissions To Share
Savvy Cleaner Training – House Cleaner Training and Certification
My Cleaning Connection – Your hub for all things cleaning.
HouseCleaning360 – A hub connecting homeowners with house cleaners
Savvy Perks – Employee benefits for your employees.
Turnover Cleaning Tips – for Vacation Rental and Airbnb Hosts