Need Suggestions for Vacuum Cleaner for Elderly Parents

ozziepuppyJanuary 1, 2013

Hello All,
My parents are 84 and 86 and still live alone in their own home far from all of their children, who live several thousand miles away. They both have health issues (arthritis, heart attack, carotid artery surgery, hip replacement, etc.). On a recent visit, I realized that they are trying to vacuum with inappropriate vacuum cleaners. They currently have three: one is about 30 years old, heavy, and the self-propel mechanism does not work; the second has a broken handle, and the third is for bare floors. Their carpet is fairly thick. They have one cat but she doesn't seem to shed much. I would like to get them a very lightweight vacuum cleaner that will be easy for them to use but still do a good job. Have been considering the Hoover Platinum Lightweight Upright Vacuum with Canister, Bagged, UH30010COM and wondering if that would be an appropriate one, or if anyone has any other suggestions. Thanks a lot in advance.

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My mother has an Oreck and really likes it because of its light weight. Is there a possibility that you and your siblings could arrange for a housekeeper to come in weekly to do the more difficult chores?

    Bookmark   January 1, 2013 at 4:31PM
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We would like to arrange for something like that, but they are very paranoid that a person coming into their home would not be trustworthy. They are just very suspicious about things like that, unfortunately.

Which Oreck does your mother have? The Oreck Commercial 2100RHS 8 Pound Commercial Upright Vacuum? I noticed that it is even lighter than the other one I was considering.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2013 at 5:15PM
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I purchased a high end roomba from Hammacher Schlemmer for my 88 year old father in law and after some reluctance he actually uses it all the time. Hammacher has a lifetime warranty so when it started not cleaning well we sent it in for a replacement , exchange went smoothly. He really likes how it goes under the beds and dressers, areas that were never really cleaned well before.

Pairing the Roomba with a Dyson rechargeable cordless (ie DC44) would be ideal, but pricey- each are probably about $400.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2013 at 6:58PM
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Thanks for the suggestions!

    Bookmark   January 1, 2013 at 9:26PM
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We have a Shark Pro, works better than a Dyson, is very light, easy to push/pull, easy to empty the dust bucket.
and only cost us $160 at BB&B.

I saw an interesting one today at Costco.
Was called a Shark Lift-Around which is a small canister vac only weighs 6 lbs.
At Costco was only $79

Here is a link that might be useful: Shark Lift Around

This post was edited by Nunyabiz1 on Wed, Jan 2, 13 at 16:48

    Bookmark   January 1, 2013 at 9:28PM
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We have a Kenmore Progressive. It is very heavy, and I would definitely not recommend it for a Senior adult. It cleans great especially on the pet hair.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2013 at 9:47PM
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I'm not sure which model my mother has. She's had it for a few years and it came with a portable handheld as well. It seems to do a decent job at any rate and it is only 7-8 pounds, which is good because she's not as strong as she used to be! I noticed that Oreck is running a special through January 5th if you are interested.

Here is a link that might be useful: Oreck

    Bookmark   January 2, 2013 at 4:23PM
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Went to Sears after work today. They sure weren't interested in helping me. I finally got someone to let me try out the Oreck Magnesium on a little carpet at a cashier's station. I liked it a lot because it was so lightweight, but it seemed a bit pricey. If I can get to the Oreck store after work tomorrow before it closes I will try to look at the different models. Thanks for the link also.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2013 at 9:49PM
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I had the same challenge with my mother. We paired a Roomba with an Oreck, though it was a bit costly, it was better than other options (hiring someone my mom didn't trust, eg.).

If I was to do it again, I would pair a Roomba with the handheld Dyson because it turns out mom didn't get out of the house as often as we thought she did and it turns out she didn't buy vacuum bags.

We ended up shipping her vacuum bags, but she still preferred to use the Roomba, even though it wasn't as good as a deep cleaning with the regular vacuum.

Mom was always comfortable with electronics and loved her Roomba and showed it off to her friends. She liked to set up the electronic walls in different places and even watched it run around doing its thing. (I make her sound like she had dementia, but she didn't... she just had a sense of whimsy!)

    Bookmark   January 2, 2013 at 10:15PM
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Stopped at the Oreck store right before they closed and they were very nice. The newest Oreck Magnesium has a swivel feature and wireless speed control. There are several options for the annual maintenance. Tried another lightweight one but the Magnesium seems to be the easiest to push around. They still seem pricey for what you get, but I am not finding anything comparable in terms of ease of use. However, when you are looking at $499 for a basic machine you are almost up in Meile or Sebo territory. Tough decision.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 11:30PM
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Total waste of money.
Can get a shark for $160 or even less at Costco, same weight, just as easy to push/pull, cleans better, easier to dump vacuumed up dirt.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2013 at 3:11AM
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Can they move closer to you or ?

    Bookmark   January 4, 2013 at 7:09AM
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I have not had good luck with shark vacuums. Kept returning them and gave up- these were the cordless ones - maybe the corded ones are better.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2013 at 7:51AM
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I don't think there is a cordless vacuum of any brand that is worth a nickle.
The non cordless however are very good for the price.

We have had ours for a year now with no problems, we had what we thought was a perfectly working vacuum at least it seemed to be picking up decently. Was a 20+ year old Electrolux Canister.
But the first time we ran that Shark over our rugs we were shocked and disgusted.
I tried it out at BB&B, funny thing was it was at the Dyson area where they had a rug set up for you to vacuum.
I ran the Dyson over it and it seemed to work well, then I thought WTH I am going to grab that Shark down and run it.

Did so, it was lighter easier to push and it actually pulled more dirt out of the carpet than the Dyson did and that was after running the Dyson over the entire rug.
So the Dyson left behind more than it picked up and the Shark sucked it right out.

I figure even if the Shark only last 5 years its still a better deal than the Dyson or really any other high dollar vacuum because I can buy 3-4 of them for the price of one.
But so far it shows no signs of giving out and I bet it will last just as long as any Dyson.

Meile I am sure will probably last decades because lets face it Germany is one of the last bastions of quality workmanship left on the planet because they have very strong Trade Unions, workers are paid very well, trained very well, basically exactly the opposite as here in the US.

So if you have the money I am sure you really cant go wrong with a Meile, just like ANYTHING else German made from Knives to Cars to Washer/Dryers right down to a bottle opener you can basically rest assured it is well made.

But if you don't feel like spending $500+ for a Vacuum I am fairly impressed with the Shark.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2013 at 11:43AM
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I *love* our dyson cordless. Haven't used the central vac once since we got it, and even took it to the cottage with us this past summer since it was so much easier than lugging the canister vac that we have there around.

It's lightweight, simple re. no cords to plug and unplug as you move from area to area, and it does a great job. You would have to pry it out of my cold dead fingers. I'll never go back to a corded vacuum.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2013 at 1:18PM
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After reading this thread I Googled the subject and found a site that recammended the Hoover C1320 40' Cord Length, 12" Nozzle Width, 12" Signature Lightweight Upright. I went to and many reviewers said it was the best lightweight vacuum they ever owned. One commercial carpet cleaner also said it was the best he had used and he uses it in his business. Many said it was better than the Oreck at half the price. Cheapest I found it for was $100 plus shipping. Amazon wants $150 for it. The only drawback is the 40 foot heavey duty cord which some said was a pain to wind up on the hooks.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2013 at 2:09PM
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They are not yet at the point of being willing to move closer. They are in a warm climate and we are in a cold climate. They do not like cold weather and dreary days and do not see the need for more assistance (although I believe there is a need). At any rate, I went to another vacuum store today after work and they recommended the 8-pound Supralight Riccars as being better than the Oreck Magnesium (they said they sell both, but I did not see a Magnesium, only the other Orecks). Anyway, the Riccar Supralights were quite lightweight and seemed to be much better made than the Orecks that I had tried out. They discount quite a bit off list price (somewhat of a game, I am sure) so now I am seriously considering a Riccar RSL1A OR RSL5. Has anyone had any experience with either of these?

    Bookmark   January 4, 2013 at 8:08PM
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I checked on the Hoover C1320 40' Cord Length, 12" Nozzle Width, 12" Signature Lightweight Upright on amazon and unfortunately it only has 6 reviews, and the seller (not amazon) does not have a good enough rating as a seller for me to be willing to buy from them. However, I will check around on the web and see if I can find some other information about it.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2013 at 8:14PM
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For what it's worth - here are my thoughts....

I'm only 60 but I have advanced osteoarthritis - I just had both knees replaced this year. I also have problems with arthritis in my hands which can make vacuuming painful. I was looking into purchasing a new vacuum to keep in my kitchen closet so that I didn't have to drag my Kenmore canister out whenever I wanted to vacuum crumbs or dog hair. The Kenmore works great and even though the canister is heavy the power head is easy to maneuver and is fairly lightweight.

Everyone seems to rave about the Shark. I went to my local Bed, Bath and Beyond and the ladies there were kind enough to let me try both the Shark Pro and the Lift Away on their carpet. They might be great vacuums but I wouldn't buy them because maneuvering the swivel head put too much pressure on the basal joint of my thumb. I can imagine how much harder it would have been on a thick carpet. The problem is that there is a lot of weight on the upright portion of the vacuum - it was much heavier than my canister.

I also tried the Dyson Animal and had the same problem.

The cleaning service that I occasionally use has Oreck Commercial and they are lightweight and seem to do a good job on my carpets.

I've decided that I'm just going to buy a corded stick vacuum to keep in the kitchen.

I've never used a Riccar but the salesman at my local Sew and Vac likes them. When I dropped off my sewing machine for repair I asked him about the various brands he carries. He told me that Riccar and Sebo were good brands and comparable to Miele.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 4, 2013 at 9:09PM
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Thanks for the comments. I have a Sebo X4 myself and like it, but of course it is somewhat heavy. I like the Riccar RSL5 except for the fact that if you vacuum up a coin I think it will damage the fan. That may be the case for most vacuums, though (although it is not the case for the Sebo). And, I think the fan is relatively inexpensive to replace. The RSL5 Riccar is 8 pounds, has the ergonomic handle, two speeds, stainless steel brush roll, HEPA filtration, and lifetime Kevlar belt. No attachments, but my parents have another small vac for those types of tasks. Anyway, that's the way I'm leaning, although I haven't decided for sure yet.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 9:43AM
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I haven't tried the Shark, but it's bagless, isn't it? They want one with a bag, so I think the Shark is out.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 9:46AM
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Yep Shark is bagless which is way easier to mess with.
not sure why they wish to mess with bags other than I guess old habits but that sadly or I guess for you fortunately cuts down on your options.

Personally I will never go with a vacuum with a bag anymore.
I like being able to SEE what is being picked up and how full the bucket is, plus I don't loose any suction at all as it is filling up like with a bag.
The shark has a washable filter that works great, I simply pop it out, wash it with warm water squeeze it out and let dry for a couple hours about twice a year.

I was just using it about 5 minutes ago in fact after taking down the Xmas tree, sucked up every tiny piece of tree scrap and I was thinking about this thread as I was vacuuming.
How easily it pushed and turned and picked up everything with one pass.
But then again while I am getting older (54) I am not exactly in the elderly stage just yet, don't have arthritis etc, so maybe I am just not feeling it, but I have never had an easier vacuum to use in my 30-40 years of vacuuming.

If this one last another 4 years and breaks I would buy another one.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 12:25PM
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I'm 69, have slight arthritis in my thumbs and have been using the Shark lift-away for about a year and love it. My floors are hardwood and oriental rugs and the vacuum works well on both, though it's better on the rugs. I recently purchased the Dyson cordless for quick cleanups. Honestly, I hardly use the Shark anyone. I don't think it would work great on thick carpet, but it is so lightweight, powerful and easy to use that I find myself vacuuming much more frequently. I bought it at Walmart for around $250 or so. I don't think I'll need another vacuum. I used a Miele for 25 years but don't want to lug around a canister anymore.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 2:44PM
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Most vacuum cleaners will be too heavy for your parents at their age. A healthy male of their age will have no problems with most cleaners.

Those with heart problems are usually advised to not use a vacuum cleaner.

For many years I used the Hoover Self-Propelled cleaner, but the new Hoover Self-Propelled cleaners are now too heavy for me to get out of a closet.

Last vacuum cleaner purchased was a small size Oreck. Husband is 83 (healthy) and has no problems pushing the Oreck and I (78) cannot manhandle the Oreck since having surgery on both shoulders and now lower back/hip problems.

I do use a 1-gallon Shop Vac for the tile floors. It is light weight and easy for me to use. The Shop Vac is not for carpets.

The Roomba is of interest to me and husband says it will not work in our split level house. Will admit there are many tight spots where the Roomba might get stuck.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 3:12PM
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We have a Roomba. They're an interesting concept. We use it in the kitchen daily to keep up with the dog hair from one hairy Black Lab.

It works great on the ceramic tile. It's louder than my regular vacuum and it does take longer to sweep the kitchen then if I were vacuuming myself. It has sensors in the bottom that prevent it from going over the stairs. The dust bin is fairly small.

It also does a decent job on the area rugs in the kitchen. However it has a real problem with the perimeter of the rugs - where the edge of the rug stops. My kitchen rugs are pretty thick and the Roomba has trouble sucking up the dirt that's immediately adjacent to the area rug because of the height difference. I don't know if that would happen on a thinner rug. As I said mine are thick.

It hasn't gotten stuck in the kitchen but every now and then it gets stuck underneath my husband's desk in the study - there's just enough room for the Roomba to enter but there's a piece that sticks out that's lower and every now and then it gets caught underneath.

It's great at vacuuming underneath beds. I'll put it in a bedroom and shut the door and let it work. They do shut off when their programming tells them that they've finished. The only downside to that is if they happen to be under my king size bed. It can be difficult to get down on the floor and pull it out.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 3:42PM
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If you put the dock in the same room as the king size bed, the roomba will go to that instead of stopping under the bed!

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 3:59PM
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We like the Roomba. It's slow and noisy, but it requires minimal effort to vacuum. Our male standard poodle thinks it's a hoot. He will push the button to start and stop it. I always tell people, "Your dog sheds, my dog vacuums."

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 4:35PM
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This afternoon I went back to the vacuum cleaner store and purchased the Riccar RLS5 and an extra box of HEPA bags for it. The store is shipping it directly to them; should arrive on Wednesday or Thursday. I searched on it here and found a number of people who were happy with it or whose elderly parents were happy with it. I know a lot of people really like the Oreck but I have heard that the quality has gone downhill recently since they have outsourced to China after Katrina. I do not know if that is true or not, but they do require yearly maintenance according to their website and warranty and their materials seem to be much "cheaper" than the Riccar. The Riccar RLS5 really seems to be made of top-quality materials and, at 8 pounds, is as light as I am going to be able to get. Hopefully they will be pleased with it and it will be both sturdy and easy for them to use.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 5:52PM
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Please let us know how you parents like this new Riccar vacuum, after they've had a chance to use it for a bit.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 6:10PM
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Sorry, I guess it is RSL5, not RLS5. I will post an update after they have had a chance to get used to it.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 6:37PM
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jxbrown - my Lab isn't as 'smart' as your dog. She only knows how to turn it OFF!

lcubed - thanks for the suggestion about the docking station.

This post was edited by maire_cate on Sun, Jan 6, 13 at 16:06

    Bookmark   January 6, 2013 at 4:04PM
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My folks rave about their Electrolux EL 1030A cordless vac, which has a much stronger (yet lighter) battery than their other cordless vacs (18v lithium vs. 12v or 9v NiMH) and is thus more powerful. The batteries last a long time between recharges. There are LED headlights to brighten the area you're about to clean. It doubles as a Dustbuster. Fairly lightweight. May get one myself.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 8:10AM
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Sharp - great suction and they have some small lightweight models.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 12:12PM
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I love our Shark Navigator, and I think more recent models have even more functional features. It does a great job on pet hair. I got one for my parents, too, because it's so easy to maneuver and light to carry. I got mine from an infomercial, and it came with a free steam mop. If you get them at BB&B, though, you can get 20% off with the coupon.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 2:06PM
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We just bought a Riccar and love it! It wasn't the lightweight one, but if I was looking for a lightweight model I would definitely consider one.

Any update?

    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 7:02PM
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According to UPS Tracking it is supposed to be delivered some time today. I will be sure to update once they have had a chance to use it and decide whether or not they like it. I think they will. I have continued to go to stores and also to investigate on the web and I am still sure that it was a very good choice for them.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2013 at 4:25PM
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It arrived safely and so far they like it a lot. They have used it a couple of times. I think it will be very satisfactory for them. They have promised to throw away two of the three old ones! At first my Dad was hesitant to try it on high because he said it almost seemed self-propelled on the low speed and he was afraid it would run away on high speed. However, he later said that it was just as easy to use on high speed, which surprised him. Anyway, that's the update for those who might be interested.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2013 at 11:17PM
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I see that you already made a decision with your vacuum purchase for your parents, and am glad it is working well for them.

I realize you don't need this info, but posting in case helpful to anyone else.

I have an Oreck XL 21 that I purchased 9 yrs ago when pregnant (it has 21 annual cleanings/maintenance), but this was when they were still made in US, I believe. Works well, and I love the lightweight aspect and huge bags (they hold lots and lots of dirt/animal hair!), which are easy to change.

I also have a small, rechargeable Shark bagless for quick clean-ups for the fall out from my daughter's gerbils, and quick dog/cat hair pickup. Gotta say, I HATE emptying it, and digging out the hair collected in the filters.

Have a 15 year old Miele White Star canister too (like many here, I do have a bit of an addiction to vacs).

Give us another update after they've been using them for a while. =)

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 12:04PM
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