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Easy Ways to Help


It may seem as though your parents’ problems are endless, no sooner have you changed the lightbulbs and cooked the dinner, than they have got a urine infection and you’re taking them to the doctor’s or you’re spending hours trying to get through to the social worker. For older people, trouble doesn’t just come in threes, it comes in multiples of three. And there may appear no obvious way to help.


But adult children can make a significant difference by sorting out the wood, so your parents have only to worry about the trees. Housing aside, there is a lot you can do, if they want you to:


  • Sort out their bills. Many older people are on rip-off tariffs. Make sure they’re on the best rates and bills are paid automatically. You can also do this with insurances and television licenses, if they are obliged to pay. This will save them time, money and stress;


  • Organise deliveries. Food shopping can be a real drag for everyone, let alone older people. You can arrange for heavy goods to be delivered and open up the possibility of internet shopping, while leaving the option of enjoyable light-weight shopping trips;


  • Take advantage of all offers of help. Get medicines delivered – many local chemists offer this service, as well as having pills delivered in daily pockets, so they older people don’t have to muck about with multiple bottles and packets.  Accept home visits and offers of lifts to places of worship or clubs;


  • Cleaners/gardeners. If older people are struggling, get help. The whole idea is to cut down on worries, so that they are able to enjoy life. And having other people coming to the house also increases social interaction;


  • Regular visiting. Visit and make sure they know when you’re coming and try to make sure other family members and friends do the same. If you can work out a rota, so that there is something going on most days, it will cut down on social isolation;


  • Find out what social opportunities are on offer. There are all sorts of clubs and events organised locally for older people. Quite possibly, the very idea of some sort of Darby and Joan club will fill them with horror. But it may be worth giving things a try, even if you have to go too the first time. Or there may be other, non-age related activities that they can get involved in;


  • Help organise Powers of Attorney.  Powers of Attorney are increasingly critical – not just so that family can help with banking etc but also because hospitals and care homes now expect you to have one. If you don’t, all sorts of problems may follow;


  • Find a handyman.  If you’re handy and have time, great. You can help. If you are not handy and you are too busy, then get a reasonably-priced and trustworthy handyman who can come out at short notice. Little problems, such as a blocked lavatory can become magnified for older people and cause considerable upset and concern.


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