Helping Aging Parents – When a Little Means a Lot


As parents age, you may find more and more reasons to become involved in everyday concerns such as bills, safety and health matters. Elders are reluctant to let go of tasks they have managed all their lives, but it’s a good idea to get involved early, before larger problems arise. If you approach the tasks in a helpful, consulting way, aging parents soon become accustomed to having help available to them.

Automatic Bill Pay

Occasionally, aging parent may have problems with bill paying. As short-term memory fades, they may have lost bills, forgotten bills or bills items that they don’t remember purchasing. “Automatic bill paying” systems can help to eliminate the searching for bills and worries about paying them on time. They can free up the aging parent to enjoy doing more pleasurable activities than sitting down with checkbook and a book of stamps.

Cars and Driving

One of the hardest things to accomplish with aging parents is getting them to release their driving privileges. They may feel perfectly competent to drive their vehicle to the supermarket and doctor’s office, in spite of evidence to the contrary. They may become angry and defensive when you broach the subject. This situation requires a great deal of tact and finesse. If you live in a state that demands on-the-road driving tests for elderly drivers, the decision may be out of your hands. If your state does not require this testing, you will have to determine on your own when the elderly driver needs to hang up their car keys. If you meet resistance, you may need to bring in your parent’s physician to advise him of the dangers of driving when no longer able. Offer to set up certain days for driving him around on errands. Add enjoyable activities like lunch, a round of golf, shopping or other favorite pastimes.

More: Parents, Communication, and the Pressures of Being the Oldest Child

Medical Alert Buttons

If your aging parent suffers from a known medical condition, you may feel better about their living alone if you purchase a medical alert system that allows them to push a button if they fall or feel unwell. Medical alert companies serve most larger communities and can help to provide fast medical care if your loved one requires help.

Mental Stimulation

For some elders, the most significant thing you can do is to provide mental stimulation. As people age, they may need to limit their activities. This limitation can also cause less mental stimulation at a time when creating new brain connections can be helpful in maintaining function. You can provide an important service by engaging your elderly parent in conversation, card games, going out to movies, discussion of current events and other brain stimulating activities. For technology-inclined seniors, communicating frequently through email or through phone texting can help to keep your loved one engaged and involved in family activities. Time spent on these activities can have a significant and noticeable effect on your loved ones’ mental function.

Part-time Helpers

Some seniors with ongoing medical issues may need daily visits from medical professionals to maintain their health. Other seniors may be physically healthy but need a little help with daily chores around the house, accompanying them on errands, fixing meals or simply playing cards with them. Fortunately, a number of non-medical, visiting helper agencies are now available to help with these tasks. You can choose the kinds of tasks and the number of visits that you need. Elders are sometimes reluctant to trust a hired stranger to come into their homes, but these trained, caring strangers soon become trusted friends.

Though the transition from independence to accepting help can be difficult, you can add a great deal of comfort and security to your aging parents life with just these few techniques.