Keeping a clean house isn't just important to many elderly people, it is mandatory. They grew up in a generation where women were judged based on the cleanliness of their home. Right or wrong, it's a fact. However, as they age, become weaker, and even begin to lose mobility, it seems that housekeeping becomes harder and harder. This often leads to a sense of failure and embarrassment. But with the proper tools elderly people can still take care of their daily tasks. One tool to consider is the vacuum cleaner. Most are too heavy and klunky to be functional for seniors. Here is how to find the best lightweight vacuum cleaners for elderly people.
Last update on 2017-10-23 at 18:51 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
A vacuum is a critical part of keeping a home clean. Shopping for a vacuum cleaner for an elderly person is different than what you may think. There are many factors to consider depending on the elderly person's needs and abilities, It will also be important to take into account future needs if their abilities are decreasing.
The vacuum cleaner an elderly person needs is much different from one a younger, healthier person might choose. Safety while using a vacuum must be taken into account also. Here are the important features to consider for a senior.
Table 1: Summary of Vacuum Cleaner Features
In most cases, an upright lightweight vacuum cleaner is best for elderly people.
Lightweight vacuum cleaners are best but weight needs to be balanced with power.
Decide whether the user can deal with cords or if a battery powered model is better.
Make sure the location of the on/off switch is in the best location for the senior's abilities.
Cords that wind up into the machine at the touch of a button are a benefit to elderly people.
Bagged or Bagless
Bagged vacuum cleaners are sometimes easier to maintain and change for elderly people than bagless.
Self-propelled vacuum cleaners can also be of great benefit to elderly but there are some dangers you should be aware of.
Full Bag Indicator
A full bag indicator light is important to let the elderly person known when to change the bag to keep the machine running at its best and prevent accidents.
A light on the front of the vacuum helps seniors see dirt, lint, and debris they may have easily missed.
Add-ons like adjustable height levels and on-board tools are nice to have and will make the job easier.
The type of cleaner is the first important consideration for the elderly. Is a upright vacuum, a canister style or one of the stick cleaners the best?
Canister vacuums should probably be ruled out for most elderly people. Canister vacuums are heavier than other vacuum cleaners. The hose and canister section that drags behind are also trip hazards and could be dangerous.
Upright vacuums may be a better choice. But some can be heavy and hard to maneuver. Lighter weight models are a better choice,
Stick type of vacuums are the lightest weight options and can be good for elderly. But many of these machines lack good suction for a thorough cleaning.
The weight of the vacuum cleaner is a very important factor. Weights of vacuum cleaners vary greatly from type to type and from model to model. As discussed above, canister vacuums tend to be the heaviest, followed by upright vacuums, then stick models.
For elderly people, the lighter the vacuum, the better. But, the weight must also be balanced with the suction power of the unit. Many of the extremely lightweight models lack suction. Look for a model that is a weight the elderly person can manage while also doing the job needed.
Vacuums offer several power options but the most popular are ones with rechargeable batteries and AC powered (plug in style). The ones that plug into the wall generally offer more powerful motors. Battery powered models though may be safer because there is no power cord to trip over. The challenge here is to balance power with safety.
While on the subject of power type, the location of the on/off switch should be considered. Some vacuums turn on with foot switches and some use hand switches. If the elderly person has arthritic hands or painful joints, the foot switch is sometimes the best choice, There are models though that have easy to use hand switches. On the other hand, if there are foot problems or deformities, the hand operated switch is the best choice. This is an important factor that many people may not have considered.
Some vacuums come with a cord that is automatically wound back into the machine at the press of a button. This can be very helpful to an elderly person - especially one with a balance problem. The up and down, back and forth motion required to wrap a cord on a vacuum can be difficult - if not dangerous - for some elderly people.
This is the great debate among everyone looking at vacuum cleaners - elderly or not! Each style has advantages and disadvantages. I am not going to get into great detail about that here. I am mostly going to look at this issue at it applies to the elderly. If you want to look into this subject more, here is a detailed article about bagged vs bagless vacuums.
Generally, bagless vacuums are cheaper to use because you don't have to buy bags. They are also a little dirtier because the dirt collection canister must be dumped. This can be a dirty process. Also, most bagless vacuums require the purchase and cleaning of HEPA filters too.
Bagged vacuums cost a little more to run because bags must be purchased as they are emptied. They are a little cleaner though because (most) of the dirt stays in the bag and the entire bag is thrown away.
Here is my take on bagged vs bagless vacuums as it applies to elderly. If the vacuum will be maintained by the elderly person, I recommend a good ole cleaner with a bag. In most cases this is what they are used to any way.
The difficulty with bagless vacuums is that they must be cleaned periodically. To do this, the cleaner must be taken apart and the filter and intakes must be cleaned very well. Eventually, these filters clog causing the vacuum to lose power and suction. I personally have a bagless vacuum, and I have to take it apart monthly into 4 pieces and clean it well. (Full disclosure: I have a dog and most of what I clean out of it is dog hair!)
Putting the vacuum back together after emptying the canister or cleaning is the most difficult part. If the parts aren't lined up correctly or the rubber seals aren't put back in the right place, the cleaner will not work as well. A bag is easier to install in a vacuum. It usually just requires fitting the bag over the suction tube. If you want a bagless model, look for one that takes the fewest steps to empty.
Some vacuums even have an automatic drive system that helps propel the vacuum forward and backward. This can be very helpful to a senior who is weak and finds pushing a vacuum on carpet difficult. I would advise against this option though if there are balance problems to think about. The vacuum could pull away too quickly and cause a fall if the elderly person cannot react quick enough.
We all know that vacuums lose efficiency as their bag gets fuller. Once a bag is completely full, the cleaner can lose all suction and look like it isn't working. Keep running a vacuum with a full bag, and it could burst causing a huge mess. So, having a "bag full indicator" light could help a forgetful senior know when to change the bag. This will keep the vacuum running at its best and could prevent a mess too!
Having a light on the front of the vacuum could be a handy feature. Especially for a person with failing eyesight or bad vision. This may help them see lint and dirt on the carpet that they might have missed. This would also be a benefit if their house is poorly lit. Not mandatory, but a nice feature to have.
The following features aren't a major factor in the safety of a vacuum for the elderly. Most of these though are convenient to have and will make using the vacuum a better experience.
OK, so if you pinned me down and made me give you an overall best pick, it would have to be the Eufy HomeVac - hands down! It has nearly every feature I look for. It is so lightweight and extremely simple to use too.
So, do you have a vacuum cleaner you recommend for seniors or the elderly? Is there a particular product you like to use? Let me and my readers know in the comments below!
I work daily with seniors and the elderly in my position as a wheelchair specialist at a home medical company. I see the struggle they have maintaining their independence and living their daily lives. Most are completely unaware of the options and products out there that can improve their independence, mobility, and safety in their home. I created this site to help seniors, elders, and their caregivers make smart buying decisions about the many independent living aids on the market.
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