Updated: Jul 21
It’s an unfortunate fact of life that parents are not around forever. For those of us who are fortunate to see them live well into old age, it’s important to be there for them while we can, spend quality time together, provide the help they need, and continue to make good memories.
This week, our team would like to suggest a list of ways to be there for your parents in the best way possible and show them you care.
Provide assistance with daily tasks in a respectful manner.
Taking up the role of your parents’ caregiver is uncharted territory for most and many people seem to instinctively approach it similarly to providing care for a child. It’s important to remember that older adults are people who have lived a long life full of experience and that they desire a degree of autonomy and control. While it’s wonderful to offer help, we must let our parents take the lead in letting us know what they require as well as the extent of assistance they would like. Although some elders are rendered fully incapable of performing certain tasks due to health issues and need you to completely take over, most of them prefer mere guidance. Be mindful of how you approach doing work on their behalf or how you teach them new things and allow them to take control if they show desire to do so.
Visit them and/or carve out time to spend together outside of providing help.
When caring for an elderly parent, it can be easy to fall into the cycle of only spending time together when your help is required with their health or daily activities. Socializing and doing enjoyable things together can ensure a strong relationship outside of providing care and preserve a parent/adult child dynamic that combats their feelings of isolation and seeing themselves as being burdensome.
Take them out for dinner or coffee.
Especially when older adults are dealing with health issues, it can be easy to forget their desire to still lead a relatively normal life. This includes fun outings, which give everyone something to look forward to, a reason to dress up and feel their best, and an opportunity to socialize and catch up, as well as a sense of being connected to the outside world by being around other people in an enjoyable setting.
Share parts of your life with them.
This goes back to taking care not to limit your relationship with your parents to the roles of giver and receiver of care. A great way to show affection to your parents and let them know you still view them as their own people is to let them in on the happenings of your life, answer their queries, and ask for their thoughts and advice.
Respect their wishes.
Senior Steps believes in always providing person-centered care that’s in line, as much as possible, with the older adult’s wishes, values, beliefs, and culture. We recommend following this philosophy in one-on-one family relationships when providing care as well! While it can be frustrating to disagree on certain issues when you feel like you know best, it’s important for an older person’s mental health and sense of self that they receive help only on their own terms when they are mentally capable of making their own decisions.
Please feel free to share any ideas that you would add to this list or leave a question or comment. If you would like to speak to one of our team members, we offer free consultations daily, so don’t hesitate to call!