Integrated Family Community Services 3370 South Irving Street, Englewood, CO 80110-1816 Ph: 303-789-0501

How Can I Help My Elderly Relatives?

You want to help your family members who are getting older. When someone is very independent, it’s hard to know what to do without offending them. Sometimes being in your company is what they want the most. Sitting in the backyard or taking lunch to a pretty spot for a picnic is all it takes. Short outings can make all the difference for seniors with mobility issues, and they’ll be delighted to see how much you care.

Offer Them Rides

When someone close to you is getting to the age when they should no longer be driving, it can be distressing. They might fall into depression at the loss of that independence. Driving is more difficult for seniors, even if they are still able to. That can take quite a while to sink in. If you offer to drive them to appointments and errands, it might bother them at first. But you can gently remind them now and then that it will be relaxing for them to let you be the chauffeur for a change.

Help Them with Meals

Running errands like grocery shopping can be done alone or a nice outing for spending time with your loved one. You might like preparing some meals together if they are able. Even sitting in the kitchen while you cook would be good company for both of you. This would be a good time for you to learn some old family recipes. Ask what they want on the shopping list to make sure your loved one is getting the items they like and need. If you are the sole decision maker for them, talk to the doctor about foods that are allowed. You could fix some meals ahead of time so that your parent can just pop them in the microwave or oven, or you can make something cold that doesn’t need to be heated up like sandwiches, salads, pudding, or some cut up fruit.

Finances

Helping someone with their money might not come off as being helpful at first. You will need to be tactful when approaching the subject. If your loved one has started being late with bills and can no longer keep a checkbook, it is probably time to sit down and gently let them know you would like to help them with those things. If their diminishing capacity is getting more noticeable, find out how you can get power of attorney if no one has done that yet. There can be a separate POA for finances and a separate one for medical. Tempers can flare and feelings get hurt, though, whether the responsibilities are split or not. The earlier in your loved one’s decline that finances and legal documents can be signed and put in order, the better.

Getting older has many challenges, not only for the person getting older but also for you. It will take patience and understanding on your part. With your heart in the right place, you will be doing your loved one a great service by being there.

One of the most important ways you can take care of older relatives is simply spending time with them — they get lonely easily. Look through our events calendar to find fun, affordable activity ideas near you.

Tim Esterdahl

Tim Esterdahl is the editor of IFCS blog. He is a married father of three and enjoys golf in his spare time.
Tim Esterdahl

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