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My Parent's Shoveling Scares Me!


"My mother insists on shoveling every time it snows.  Even though she does not drive, she wants her driveway and sidewalks cleared immediately after it snows.  I understand her desire, and I can certainly do it for her, but I need some time to plow my driveway first before I can get to her.  She is a reasonably fit 80-year-old, but I don't want anything to happen to her, especially when I'm not around."


I'll bet that your mother is one of those ladies who gets things done.  How lucky that you have a mother who demonstrates such a positive example. You should also be grateful that your mother continues to use her muscles and exercise her body after retirement. She sounds like a treasure.

If your mother is physically able to shovel and is doing it because she wants to, then dialog about ways she can participate safely.  Talk with Mom about footwear.  Good footwear is key to preventing a fall. Next, speak with your mother about clothing, perhaps some bulky pants for hip protection?  There are even such things as hip protectors to drastically soften the impact of a fall.

If your mother simply cannot wait, make sure she paces herself while using a light-weight shovel.  Assuming she is retired, she can shovel periodically over a few hours, not all at once.  For water-heavy snow, she should only shovel with less than two inches of snow to reduce the weight she has to move. Even young people hurt themselves shoveling snow, so insist that she consider her limits honestly.  Of course, if she has been shoveling her whole life, she already knows this; however, a friendly reminder never hurts.

Perhaps she would enjoy a small electric snow blower.  They are very light and easy to operate.   You merely turn the key and go.  There is no annual maintenance to this type of snow blower, and they are easy to store in the garage.  Almost anyone can operate these devices.  They cannot blow deep snow, but this is okay because your mother should only attempt to plow or shovel after light snowfall.  

If your mother is not willing to wait, but should, you may have another situation on your hands. She may be putting herself at risk.  It may be time to hire someone from the neighborhood that will come within a certain number of hours to plow or shovel.  The timing of the service will be important for someone like her, so make that the priority when selecting someone.

Think of yourself as lucky to have a “can-do mother.”  It is likely that you have those characteristics also, which makes you twice as blessed.  All you can do is try to work on solutions that keep her safe.

About this Post

Written By

Mary Haynor

RN / CEO - Emeritus

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