5 things to remember when caring for an elderly relative


Our elderly relatives are often the glue that holds the family together. This makes it difficult to see them becoming frail or unwell. While they’ve always looked after you, now you’re looking after them. It can feel a little odd. 

But your elderly relative needs to know that you care. Many feel like a burden and don’t want to inconvenience us. It’s only right that we look after them in their old age. So, what are some things to remember? 

Be practical

Showing an elderly relative you care means making practical decisions. For example, their current home may no longer be catering to their needs, so you might think that a nursing home would be more appropriate – what if a medication error leads to death in a nursing home? Always do your research before choosing a nursing home for your elderly relative. Alternatively, they might be able to stay in their home, but you might need to make safety adjustments. Whatever needs doing, being practical and getting stuff done shows that you care.  

Be kind

It’s important to be kind to your elderly relative. They might be feeling lonely or frustrated with themselves for being less independent. Being kind means listening, helping with anything and not making them feel like a burden. Don’t act like caring for them is a chore. An elderly relative should always be made to feel safe, comfortable and cared for.  

Be alert

Elderly relatives are more likely to fall ill or get injuries. Their immune systems have to work harder and their bones are weaker. So, be alert and keep an eye on their health. Are they going to the bathroom more regularly than normal? Do they have a strange bruise or cut? Are they experiencing memory loss? If so, take them to the doctors immediately. Catching injuries and ailments early makes them easier to treat.  

Be available

Caring for an elderly relative doesn’t just mean being around when it suits you. You will always need to be available. This means making sure that your phone is always turned on and being ready to go over with a moment’s notice. It might be a little inconvenient, but your elderly relative needs you to be reliable. You’ll be devastated if they’ve had a fall or injury and you didn’t answer the phone. 

Be forgiving  

Sometimes caring for an elderly relative can be frustrating. People can be stubborn and resent losing their independence. If your elderly relative has dementia, they might not remember who you are, or could say hurtful things. However, it’s important to remember who they once were and be forgiving. Most of the time, it isn’t personal.   

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