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  1. Accept help. Refusing to accept the help of younger relatives is like refusing to travel by car because you can walk. You can walk but, if you have a long way to go, it is easier to go by car and much more efficient. Sit back and take a ride, accept help from family, friends, local groups and anyone else. Save your energy for battles when you will need it. You may not be asked again;

  2. Be realistic. If you’re always demanding things, then you will drive your family away. If your children and grandchildren are met with a list of complaints each time they call, they will not call. They have lives too. Hope to be part of their lives, not at the centre;

  3. Plan, plan, plan. Do not stumble into old age. Plan where you are going to live, what you would do in different circumstances – if you become ill or get dementia or if one of you dies. And plan with your family – so you’re not always asking for help or waiting around on the off-chance they visit. Drawing up a schedule and a formal plan can really help make life better;

  4. Close is best. You may have a yearning to move to the seaside, when you pass 75. Resist the temptation. If possible, stay close to your family or move to be close to them. Times ahead could be very unpleasant for you and very difficult for them if you insist on living at the other end of the country. And make sure you organise Powers of Attorney;

  5. Organise your funeral and write a Will.  Everyone has got to die. Plan for a good death. If you have particular wishes in terms of a funeral, organise it and, if possible, pay for it. And make sure you write a fair Will. You don’t want people to be cursing your memory before you’re cold.




  1. Do not treat your parents like children.  It may feel sometimes as though your parents are children but they are not. They should be consulted about everything, included in all discussions and given the right to make decisions. Even if they have dementia, it is essential that they make real choices about their future;

  2. Talk to them. If you talk to your older relatives about their needs, your needs and what is possible, it can take a lot of the emotional stress and strain out of relationships. Many people find it unnatural having such conversations with their parents, but so is being in a care home. It is better for everyone. If they’re always wondering when you're going to arrive, they will always be difficult

  3. Include them. When you have birthdays, parties, school plays etc, involve older relatives. They will be able to boast about it afterwards and value being part of your lives. They may be difficult, but family events are not the same without the older generation and they are often adored by the grandchildren;

  4. Don’t try to do everything. You cannot be everywhere and you cannot do everything. You will not be able to please everyone and some parents will never be pleased by anything. Do what you can and what is needed. This is going to mean giving time to this – but do not try to do it all. Make sure others are doing their bit too;

  5. They are going to die. This is the only tip that really matters. All the others follow from this. Older people die, sometimes suddenly, sometimes painfully and often unexpectedly. You will probably not have the chance to do things for them when your children are older or when you have more time. You will not regret doing the right thing. You only regret not doing it.

You may feel you just want to get away but imagine waiting all day for someone to arrive and then have them make an excuse to leave

The older generation are often adored by grandchildren

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