Don’t Want to Keep Up With Housekeeping?

Third-party services help support aging in place

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

If housekeeping becomes too difficult to manage physically for you or an older adult in your care, you have options for help that can make a big difference in quality of life and in the ability to age in place.

“An unkempt environment is usually the first sign that a senior is in need of help,” said Debra Kostiw, owner of No Place Like Home Senior Care in Henrietta. “There may be laundry piling up, floors that need mopping, cluttered countertops, items on the floor, tripping hazards, spoiled food, bed linens unchanged, odor of urine, pet odors, over-used litter, dirty dishes in the sink and overflowing trash.”

Tackling all of that while struggling with arthritis or recovery from illness, injury or surgery can prove too difficult. No Place Like Home provides light housekeeping, pet care, personal care, medication reminders, meal preparation, companionship, memory care and errand running.

“Seniors want to stay independent and should be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve,” Kostiw said.

After providing an assessment, No Place Like Home sets up a weekly cleaning schedule with the client to maintain a clean home. Clean-up issues such as mold remediation or pests or home repair issues are referred to other services. Then No Place Like Home can return for maintenance cleaning.

For minor issues of clutter, Kostiw’s staff helps clients.

The biggest hurdle isn’t the cleaning tasks. It’s working with the client to let her staff do the work. For many, they feel they must clean up before the cleaner arrives. Kostiw understands that urge.

“I’ve done that myself when I had a cleaning service,” she said. “I felt I had to pick up first. I reassure clients that everyone needs help. I do not want them to feel embarrassed. I’ve seen a lot worse. We’re here to work as a team and I want them to think of me as their captain. I come first to do a meet-and-greet. Seniors in need of housekeeping typically need some other things like someone checking on them for medication and showering and keeping up with the refrigerator.”

She believes that listening to their needs is the most important element of what she does. Kostiw said that oftentimes, their adult children tend to assume what is needed instead of listening.

“A lot of times, people don’t realize their house needs some upkeep,” Kostiw said.

Decline of muscle tone, mobility, eyesight and s diminished sense of smell can hamper the ability to detect issues and to do much about them.

“Sometimes they don’t realize they have a problem,” Kostiw said. “In most cases, they do want to know. It’s not an easy conversation to have but they’re grateful someone told them.”

Services such as Health and Wellness Referral Services in Leicester help older adults in Livingston and Monroe counties with their needs through vetted independent contractors. These services include cleaning, non-emergency transportation, cooking, and non-medical elder companionship.

Tom Cicero, co-owner of Health and Wellness Referral Services, said that the business was established in 1987 because his 83-year-old grandmother began needing help with her home. Until she received outside help, she had been walking down a few cellar steps and then crawling up them to get down on the floor to clean it.

He finds good matches for the needs and location of the client, who pay a fee for his referral. The client and worker negotiate pay rates, times and duties.

“We handle minor tasks that they can no longer do,” Cicero said. “It keeps the person in their home.”

Many elder services are listed at https://211lifeline.org/family.shtml