Your parents are getting older, and they may not be as independent as they used to be. Instead of dreading this new stage in their lives, you can use it as an opportunity to show them how much you care by helping out more around the house, being willing to visit them more often, and being more patient when dealing with their frustrations or mistakes. These 10 ways to show your older parents you care will help you do just that!
1) Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Many of us feel uncomfortable asking our parents questions about their care, but we must take control of their physical and mental health. Even if your parents are okay with you asking questions, that doesn’t mean they have answers. Asking questions can help eliminate confusion or miscommunication between you and your parent or caregiver. And by taking an active role in your loved one’s care, you might even open them up to having conversations they might not otherwise have wanted to have (for example, those surrounding end-of-life planning). Asking questions is also an excellent way for you and your older parent or loved one to stay connected.
When you can no longer care for an elderly parent, you will need to find someone who can. You may think that this is the hardest part of the equation, but it isn’t as difficult as you may think. There are plenty of agencies and caregivers available who specialize in helping with this very problem.
2) Start cooking more
There’s nothing like a home-cooked meal made by someone who cares about you. If your parents can no longer cook for themselves, make sure you’re providing them with healthy, delicious meals made fresh from scratch. It might not be as easy as heating leftovers or running out for takeout, but it will mean a lot more to your older parents when they know you’ve put so much effort into making their favorite dishes. Plus, cooking together is a great way to connect and stay close even as you get older.
3) Check in more often
If you are like most people, your parents probably don’t ask for much from you. They didn’t raise you to call on a whim, and they likely don’t want to take up your time without good reason. It is important that when you decide to reach out (say, when you know they will be doing something like moving or traveling alone), you make it worth their while by being considerate and thoughtful of their time. Call ahead of time if possible. This way, they can plan around your visit and make sure things are running smoothly before you arrive.
4) Do more chores around the house
Since you’re just starting in your place, there’s not much you can do for your parents regarding home maintenance. But make a list of things you could do—like grocery shopping or making doctor appointments—and keep it handy. Then, when you have time, take care of them! It’ll help relieve some of their stress and bring peace of mind. Don’t be afraid to ask if they need help doing anything around their house, either! If they say no, then at least you asked.
5) Give them space when they need it
It’s hard not to hover, but at some point, your parents will likely let you know that they need space. This could be physical distance (such as when they want you out of their apartment or home), or it could be emotional distance (such as when they don’t want you checking up on them every day). Remember that there’s no perfect age for wanting privacy, and you shouldn’t judge a parent for needing it at any age. Give them space when they need it.
6) Help keep their mind occupied
One of the best ways to show your parents you care is by engaging with them and talking about interesting and important things to them. Old folks will always enjoy hearing stories about your life, especially when it includes their grandchildren. Keep in mind that there’s a fine line between pestering and caring; spend time together but not overstay your welcome. Reading together can be a wonderful way for older people and younger people to pass the time (and enjoy each other). You could read a new book or re-read an old favorite, but reading aloud while they follow along works well.
7) Include them in life events
Even if you’re living far away, try to include your parents in important events—it can be a really simple text or picture, but it will mean a lot. Did you get a promotion? Did you get married? Did you have a child? Did something terrible happen and need their support? Share these moments with them—even (especially) if they can’t physically be there for them. It impacts when your kids make room for your parents in their lives.
8) Read together and talk about things you love with them.
You may have been an avid reader as a child, but have you read your favorite stories to your parents? If not, pick up an old favorite book or try something new and read with them. Reading aloud is a great way for you and your parents to bond, but it’s also a wonderful way for you to engage in some quality time. Reading is one of those activities that people tend not to do much anymore—so if it’s been a while since either of you has read anything, now is a good time to start again!
9)Start a New Hobby Together
It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant. Making a meal together and taking turns chopping vegetables is one way to spend time together, get some exercise, and stay on top of healthy habits. Another great activity is going for a hike; it’s easy on your body, fun, and will help you stay connected with nature. And remember: With kids or with elderly parents, all good things take time and practice. It can be discouraging when they can’t pick up a new hobby like tennis in no time flat, but if you (or they) keep at it consistently over time, you’ll find that everyone has an easier time learning and mastering new skills!
10)Send Gifts, Letters, or Care Packages
Younger people are often out of touch with their parents’ daily struggles. People who work long hours don’t always make time for phone calls, emails, or regular visits. And these days, it can be difficult to find time to take a break from life and see loved ones in person. Fortunately, there are other ways you can serve your parents—and they’re just as easy and effective as in-person communication: send them gifts, letters, or care packages. This is an especially great idea if you live far away from your parents; here’s how you can get started.
As a younger generation, it’s up to us to show our parents we love them and value their presence in our lives. Helping them grow old with dignity and grace is one of life’s most important tasks—and, luckily, it doesn’t require any special skills.