Home Help

I finally come back to the subject of home help.


In the above post from the 10th of this month I wrote the following about my paternal grandmother:

‘At the time grandmother was still doing a lot of cooking for her whole extended family. As I remember it, she would spend a real lot of time in the kitchen where she was being helped by two young Polish girls. This brings me to the subject of home help. I want to write about this another time. Actually, I think about this constantly, why on earth the average elderly woman in our society is these days not in a position to have some home help, usually not until she is very feeble and can hardly do anything herself anyway.’

And I said, that at the time (about 1940) grandmother would have been close to 68. From 1945 on as a refugee in Germany she lived a very impoverished life until she died in 1950, lovingly cared for by Elisabeth (Lies), her youngest daughter. Now, my maternal grandmother, Olga, never had any home help as far as I know. But for most of her life she had sombody close living with her.

My mother-in-law, Frieda, was born in 1900. Her working life at the Post Office lasted for 40 years. She retired at 60 and then lived another 27 years. The last few years of her life she needed a lot of home help, which was provided by her younger daughter Ilse. My mother, Charlotte, born in 1911, also needed a lot of help the last few years of her life. Charlotte was helped by granddaughter Corinna. Both Ilse and Corinna received a small amount of payment for their efforts. Frieda as well as Charlotte were able to provide this payment out of their pensions.

I was born in September of 1934. As I remember it, during my growing up years, we had always some live-in home help (called ‘Mädchen’). This ended only in January of 1945, close to the end of WW Two in Germany. Even during war time my mother was allowed to have home help because she had three children, and she also was not required to accept a job, whereas women without any children had to go to work fot the war effort!

I guess in the past any home help would have been paid substantially less than what is the going rate these days. That means, a lot of elderly people are not in a position to adequately pay for home help. This is where in our society we expect the government to chip in. Alas, government funds for social services somehow do not seem to be able to cover every needy elderly person. And families these days do not live close enough any more, to be able to be of help on a permament basis. Besides, most younger family members are usually in full time employment and also are inclined to help younger family members with raising children where that is possible because they live close enough, and when they can spare enough time away from work.

So, societies have changed. Social conditions are verty different from what they used to be. Still, a lot of people do have no job security and can be out of work any time. Some people offer to become ‘volunteers’, meaning they work for very little pay. But then, the people who have enough resources to function as volunteers seem to become pretty rare. Maybe in future more and more people are going to become very needy in old age? Or just wont live that long any more? So, is it going to sort itself out in the end? I don’t know.

5 thoughts on “Home Help

  1. I briefly replied to your previous comment on this subject (and have a substantially longer comment I’ll post within the next several weeks). Basically, you are correct — times have changed. Now, most women work full time and indicate they consider that preferable to the role of housewife. Extended family members seldom live sufficiently near each other to be of assistance. Home help is no longer an affordable option for most families. While modern appliances alleviate the drudgery of some chores, it does not eliminate them. And, at least in the U.S., there is little assistance for the young, elderly, and infirm to able them to live independently. While acknowledging the problem, conservative political opposition prevents acceptability of any recommended solution.

    1. I wanted to have another look at all the posts where I had mentioned ‘Home Help’. I went to the above Tag: ‘Home Help’. And this came up:




      Going there, I found some interesting comments to these posts! It is so good, to be able to look at it again! 🙂

  2. When I was working, I was very happy to have a lady come in once a week to do my cleaning – I don’t like housework, am not very good at it, and she was super, loved cleaning. Also, my hourly wage was about twice what I paid her, so it was a good deal for us both. Since I have been retired, I’ve downsized and managed on my own. Now my eyesight is really not so good, and I’m aware I miss bits, so I have found a new cleaning lady: she whizzes round, and does in two hours what would take me a week to get done! Four hours of her time costs me the equivalent of a meal for two in a good restaurant so I’m not complaining – just not treating anyone to meals in good restaurants!

  3. Thanks for this comment, dear Cat. I think you’re doing very well. You seem to be very lucky as far as cleaning ladies are concerned. Yes, a good deal all around. It shows, that if people are sensible, there isn’t a problem, not really. It is great, that are still some people around that love doing housework and are good at it! These people that are willing to do housework for others, should be afforded a pretty high standing in society. Peter’s Great-Aunt, ‘Tante Mietze’, was such a person. She is still fondly remembered by the whole family. 🙂

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