General Housework and Cleaning with Mamma

In previous posts, I shared how my Mom loved to cook and how we looked for things she could do as alternatives to her physical therapy.   You might not think cleaning is a fun alternative to exercise, but my Mom was a clean freak.  To her killing germs and having a neat, clean home was a sign of caring about the people and things around her.  With that in mind and with the therapists okay, I looked for ways to let her help around her own house.  I cleared the activities with her therapist before I introduced the various ideas to Mom.  Then I would plan to let her do at least one housework related task per week.  This way she could still felt useful and was less likely to get bored.  Bored?  Although Mom was forgetful, some things stuck in her head and she would wonder why she would need to do somethings again so soon.   That is why I tried to mix it up with things that should be done but were not urgent cleaning needs.

Cleaning the floors was one substitute the therapist agreed she could do instead of her arm stretching and strengthening exercises. Mamma could not vacuum a carpeted from her wheelchair because it was too hard to push the vacuum and her chair too.  However, she could clean the kitchen and dining room floors if she had the right tools.  She was used to a straw broom, but I got her a Swiffer Sweeper because it is lighter, easy to push, and she could easily see that it was picking up dirt.  When she wanted me to “sweep the big stuff” first and then let her mop, we simply put the wet cloths on her Swiffer.   If there was an especially sticky spot which the Swiffer mop would not remove, Mamma had a spray-pump bottle she kept in the wheelchair with her.  Since Mom used to mop her floors with Pine-Sol when I was growing up, we made a mix of water and that for the floor spray.  This way she got the scent she associated with clean.  Mamma would spray the sticky spot and let it sit while she mopped on the other side of her chair, then come back and re-mop the sticky spot up.  She was amazed at what a good job the little Swiffer did as she made her way around and under the dining table.  Sometimes, she was tired after doing the small dining area and I would finish up.  Other times, she wanted to do the tiny kitchen herself as well. 

Since Mom like the Swiffer so much, I got her Pledge Wipes to use on the dining table, living room furniture, kitchen cabinets, and the ½ wood paneled walls in the dining room.  When I was a child growing up, Mom swore there was nothing better than Pledge for cleaning wood.  Due to her arthritis, she had problems pushing buttons on spray cans, so the wipes we a perfect solution.  When she wanted her bedroom dusted, she supervised the work I did in there.  It was harder for her to maneuver her chair to clean the way she wanted in her bedroom.  When we cleaned kitchen cabinets, I did the ones above the counter with paper towels and spray Pledge, as well as the counter-tops with Orange spray.  Mom did the cabinets below the counters using the wipes on the opposite side of the small kitchenette.  No matter where we cleaned, she always smiled when she saw the dust or grim was gone and a shine was left behind.

Another kitchen cleaning project that Mamma could use as an arm and hard therapy alternative, which we did every few months, was to clean up the refrigerator.  I would pull out a few shelves or drawers and put them on the dining room table.  Mamma would sit at the table with a bowl of warm soapy water that contained a wash cloth and a dry hand towel.  She would clean and dry whatever items were on the table while I wiped down the inner walls of that part of the refrigerator.   When the inside was done, we would get clean damp cloths and do the outside of the refrigerator.  Mamma would clean from the middle down on one-side, while I cleaned from the middle up another side.  Then we would switch places until both sides and the front were as clean as she thought they should be.  She was happy while doing the work but she always needed a short nap afterwards.


If we were not sure of the best way to clean something, my Mamma would suggest we call her baby sister and ask her.  She admired her sister’s ability to clean anything until it shined like new!

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