Home Maintenance and Your Aging Parents

front porch

Home maintenance issues are a place where you can help your aging parents


My parents still live in the home I was raised in. Built in 1901, this three-story farmhouse did a great job raising our family with lots of nooks and crannies to explore and a big corner lot with plenty of trees to climb. My kids still play in my old sandbox every time we visit!

Back then with a house constantly full of kids, my parents had no problems enlisting every teenager they could find to do the cleaning, yard work and maintenance needed to keep our house running. But now in their later years with no one around to help, the house’s upkeep is becoming more difficult.

Decreasing home values.

My parents are by no means helpless, but they just can’t handle the bigger jobs anymore. And this lack of maintenance is starting to show. This worries us because eventually it’s going to lower the value of their home. And their home is one of their biggest investments – on which they’ll rely when they decide to move. “Moving day” is still a looong way off, so we had to do something now to slow the decline while they still live there.

Break the work down into manageable chunks.

At our last visit, I surreptitiously took a good look around as if I were a prospective buyer. (Even better would be to do this as a “walk-through” with your parents.) I carefully broached the subject with a “Boy, it looks like the porch could use a good scrubbing . . . would you like me to do that the next time I come over?” This opened the door a bit so we could eventually sit down and make a list of everything that needed to be done. Our list included the big things like repainting the porch floor but also regular, seasonal chores such as replacing the furnace filter. We then divided the list into three categories: things my parents wanted to do themselves, jobs my sister and I could take on when we visited, and tasks that we would hire out.

A list takes the pressure off Mom and Dad.

I think making this list was a relief to them – and we were super-careful to not make it seem like helping them was a burden to us. They would not have accepted that! I assured them that I would never take on more than I wanted and by splitting up their work, they would have more free time. And more free time means they can come watch their grandsons in their various sports and school activities. Hey, I’m always willing to play the “grandkid card” if it works!
And now that we’ve been able to hire a few tasks out, I do see my folks getting out more socially. This really does improve their quality of life and it makes my sister and I feel better because we know they’re happier.

Sometimes it’s cheaper to hire the job done.

If you’re in the same spot as us, once you’ve made the list, you’ll have to decide which jobs to do yourself and which ones to hire out. I’m going to cover this more in my next post . . . right now I need to get the kids to wrestling practice and make dinner. Always something, huh?

Read the next post in this series, How much does it really cost to help your aging parents?

Photo credit: Angie Garrett via Flickr

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