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Parents and housekeeping - advice?

(15 Posts)
WorriedAboutParentAgain Thu 03-Apr-14 02:43:03

I've posted details of this before, so sorry to repeat. It's keeping me up because I'm increasingly sure this is not ok.

My parents' house was never tidy, but when we were at home I would have said it was acceptably hygenic, though I know others would disagree - food that fell on the floor was picked up, cloths not washed often enough, washing up not in a very hot bowl. My dad has never done much around the house, but will 'wash up', which means washing a few things and putting others in the dishwasher - but that is the absolute most he will do and it would never occur to him to wipe down a surface that'd been used for raw meat or raw fish prior to putting 'clean' things on it.

My mum is obviously not coping. She has mobility issues - she can't bend down, basically - and she has allergies (exacerbated by the state of the house? I don't know if that's possible). She rarely washes the floor, which is sticky and dirty. She rarely wipes the counter tops and doesn't seem to notice if meat or fish she's been cutting up on a chopping board has ended up on the counter. When she wipes the counter, she literally just wipes it, with the cloth she uses to wash up - which is never scalded and not washed often enough. She washes up in lukewarm water. The fridge stinks and she will not allow other people to clean out rotting food - and she thinks it is fine to cut mould off things and eat them.

My brother has tried, and I have tried, to suggest we clean up, and to offer help. My mum won't take any and my dad is wilfully helpless, insisting housekeeping is a giant mystery he can't possibly cope with.

I don't know how to get through to them that I think there's a serious risk to their health. My mum is struggling enough that she's actually in pain from headaches - I don't know if that's to do with this, but it might be?

What do I do?

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 03-Apr-14 06:58:43

Like your brother I do not think you will ultimately get anywhere with them. As it stands currently they do not want any help. You cannot ultimately help anyone who does not want help; your mum does not want help and your Dad is showing learned helplessness.

I would talk to Social Services and request they do a carers assessment.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 03-Apr-14 06:58:57

Also talking to Age UK may be a good idea as well.

struggling100 Thu 03-Apr-14 10:21:17

I would speak to your mum about the cause of the headaches, and ask whether stress might be a factor. This could be an opening to suggest getting a cleaner to help out around the house so that she is less burdened. I think this may be an easier 'sell' than you and your brother doing the work yourselves, which is going to raise fears of 'putting you out' and potentially shame over the state of the house.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Thu 03-Apr-14 11:27:22

Introduce the idea of a cleaner to both parents, how having someone a few hours a week makes all the difference.

Lay it on thick with DF it is getting too much for DM to do. A couple of hours cleaning two days a week would mean she could still potter around and do a bit as she wants but the whole house is too much for her.

Your DF seems content to carry on. God forbid but if DM is incapacitated he will be at sea. You and your DB are only going to get through to one parent by persuading them that the other's health is in jeopardy.

A friend's mum was living in a bio hazardous state and only when she had to go to hospital was there the chance to go in and sort things out.

Headaches could be vision related - can DM actually see mess? - or linked to blood pressure. What mobility issues does she have? Is it her back, joints, weight?

Nanny0gg Thu 03-Apr-14 13:19:47

How old are they?

wyrdyBird Thu 03-Apr-14 17:55:17

I think I remember your post. The headaches could be anything; and like Donkeys, I'm wondering if there is a problem with your DM's eyesight? Sometimes not being able to see well can trick people into thinking their home is cleaner than it is.

Though I appreciate there is much more to it, particularly if the fridge smells, and no-one is allowed to remove rotting food. sad

It's a shame your DF has his head stuck firmly in the sand as well.

I think a word with Social Services might be a start, at least to share your concerns. Or maybe a GP, just to talk it over and see what options there might be. As you say, your mum is not coping, and that's the key issue.

WorriedAboutParentAgain Thu 03-Apr-14 18:17:25

Thanks all. smile I feel better just for writing it down - I was keeping myself awake with it last night.

attila, I can't honestly see how that would work. They are in their early 60s. She has mobility issues but having tried to get help for a relative with far greater difficulties, I cannot believe social services would be interested. Which is what worries me: they're not so shockingly bad that it is an obvious problem, but it is bad enough it's actively unpleasant and I worry for their health.

struggling that's a great idea - I'd never thought of bringing stress into it when suggesting a cleaner, and she just might take that. Thank you!

wyrdy - hi! smile I think her eyesight is ok? She wears glasses so has regular checkups. I am worried that she doesn't seem to smell the fridge or the cleaning cloths that have gone bad. I was trying to work out if she can smell things alright, and at the moment she can't because she is congested (which she puts down to hayfever, though I worry it could be partly this).

Diamondlizard Thu 03-Apr-14 18:37:00

in all honesty
i would live them to it really

unless it is really how clean is your house type stuff

they probably have strong immune systems due to this

WorriedAboutParentAgain Thu 03-Apr-14 18:48:16

How would I know if it's 'how clean is your house' type stuff?

They might have strong immune systems, or this might be why they get ill all the time.

How should I work out what is likely to be dangerous and what is unpleasant but harmless?

Diamondlizard Thu 03-Apr-14 18:51:48

have you ever seen the programme

its where people havent ckleaned for years

WorriedAboutParentAgain Thu 03-Apr-14 18:54:32

I've seen a couple of episodes. I don't really know how it compares, especially since my brother and I try to clean when we come. A lot of it isn't awful, but she won't have cleaned out her fridge for years. She just doesn't do it. So the last time it'd have been done, would have been me.

treaclesoda Thu 03-Apr-14 18:57:45

I'm watching this with interest as my parents are the same. I visit a couple of times a week and end up throwing stuff out when they're not looking etc.

They definitely have succumbed to a lot more d&v bugs in the past couple of years, and I'm pretty sure this is partly why. My parents are 20 years older though.

WorriedAboutParentAgain Thu 03-Apr-14 19:00:06

I'm sorry to hear that.

Part of what worries me is what will happen as they get older.

I threw out some mouldy bread - she was offended and rescued it, cut the mould off and ate it. I'm really not fussy about best before end dates and so on, but it'd been in a bin that'd had day-old raw fish scraps in it!

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Fri 04-Apr-14 09:34:49

Maybe you could try a different tack.

All right you can't force them to accept assistance but in so doing, they are placing angst and pressure on YOU. You will end up overwhelmed and no doubt emotionally torn between being a housekeeper each time you visit and a nag and the enemy - when you want to still be their DD.

They are after all, your mother and father, and it is still their 'job' to care about you and DB.

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