Ten ways to nurture older relatives

healthy older coupleOur grandparents, aging parents and older relatives; we love them, appreciate their stories and fondly recall the many times they’ve been our biggest cheerleaders over the years.

However, with the fast-paced lives many of us lead today, it can be difficult to set aside a few hours to let these special individuals know how truly adored they are.

With this in mind, here are ten ideas to help you to make bonding with the older generations a top priority.

10) Recognition: No matter how small the aging individual’s gestures are, take the time to recognize the effort. If you receive a birthday card, or your child gets a small gift, be sure to thank him or her for the sentiment. Writing a thank you card or sending flowers only takes moments and, though perhaps insignificant to you, will mean the world to the recipient.

9) Return phone calls: Older folks tend to have more time on their hands, so when they call be sure to respond. If you are too busy to talk on the phone at the time, the best solution is to pick up, let your loved one know that you are okay and that you’ll have to get back in touch at a later time; this will prevent any unnecessary worry.

8) Listen to their stories: A lot of historic turning points happened in the 20th Century, so why not ask your mature loved ones to describe their firsthand recollections of the JFK assignation or V-Day? This will undoubtedly make your grandparent feel valued and respected, and you may be surprised by how enthralling the account is.

7) Help them to maintain their appearances: Depending on the age and physical level of your older relatives, they may need some help grooming themselves. This may do more than boost their confidence levels. Many declining seniors suffer embarrassment in silence and, instead of admitting their difficulties, prefer to isolate from others out of shame of their shortcomings; by helping your loved ones to groom themselves and appear polished, you may be empowering them to increase social interactions.

6) Help them around the home: If your elderly relative is still living independently, then lend a helping hand with the bigger tasks. This can include lawn care, vacuuming or even just dusting. For his or her safety it would be wise to consider getting them a medical alert device, like those produced by Fall Alert. Explain to the proud older adult that this is a preventative measure that would give you peace of mind.

5) Introduce new activities: While some seniors augment their social circles during their twilight years, this is a time in which many adults tend to stop learning to do things. Teach your parents how to run their own compost. This can be something that keeps them mentally engaged each day, and gives them a sense of responsibility.

4) Run errands: What may seem like a minor chore to you can be a cumbersome hurdle to a person who is suffering from physical challenges. Therefore, why not occasionally surprise the older adult in your life with groceries or offer to drive him or her to the doctor’s?

3) Spend quality time: Take your older relative out for a day of fun! There is nothing like getting a little fresh air from time to time. Keep in mind his or her physical capabilities though and, if the person is in a fragile state, always have a plan ready on how you can swiftly return home if needed.

2) Respect: Just because people age, they still want to be given respect. Even if your parents aren’t as sharp as they used to be, don’t belittle their opinions. Remember to have patience with them and never talk down to them as if they were children.

1) Say “I love you”: Though many of us take these words for granted, these three simple words are undeniably powerful. Yes, we often say it when we’re about to hang up the phone, but why not surprise your grandparents with your affection? Throw it into the conversation at unexpected times to make it seem more sincere.  

Did we leave any points off the list? Let us know in the comments!