How to care for an elderly loved one this winter

Now that the evenings are closing in and there’s chill in the air, it’s that time of year when those of us with elderly relatives have something on our minds. We want to be there for them and to make sure they’re okay, and yet the age-old problems of time and money always seem to get in the way.

The good news for you is that we’ve put our heads together and come up with a list of the easiest ways to care for an elderly loved one on a budget this winter. With a combination of a little bit of pre-planning, some handy tech you already have, and a few new activities, you’ll be able to enjoy the winter without feeling like you constantly need to worry. Let’s dive in and see what you think.

Making a daily phone call on your lunch break or doing some FaceTime with the grandkids before bed is a great way to keep the lines of dialogue open. One of the issues with caring for an elderly loved one is that, very often, they used to care for you many years ago. By making calling and messaging a daily habit, rather than something you only do every once in a while, you won’t make it seem like you’re checking up on them. 

Regular contact and free-flowing conversation is the best way to make sure that they have enough food, they’re getting out and about and they’re in good spirits. Find a way to let all of these things come up naturally in conversation, rather than sending a barrage of questions, and you’ll find it really helps take the weight off your mind.

 Schedule friends and family to visit every few days

Having the grandkids come over for tea, or popping in by yourself for some early breakfast on the weekend, is a great way to bring down the barriers. By going to them you take the hassle out of it if they feel the cold and it gives you a chance to make sure everything is okay at home. Is the boiler working? Have they missed a bill by not opening their post? Is the fridge stocked up?

You can quickly and casually keep an eye on all of these things if you’re over semi-regularly. It’s also a great way to naturally invite them to do all sorts of other activities that will allow you to ensure they’re okay and give them the stimulation they need in their golden years.

 Take them out of the house to help with their food shopping

Shopping online may be convenient for you as you juggle a busy career with a hectic home life, but the older generation often prefer the face-to-face approach to shopping. Take them out, treat it as exercise and pick somewhere you can have a cup of tea and a slice of cake and you’ll have a weekly tradition they can always look forward to.

So often it’s the little moments of social contact and the chance to be out and about doing the things they used to simply take for granted that make a real difference. Shopping may seem like a chore to you, but it can be a great way for your elderly loved one to feel like their old self again.

Exercise and walk the dog together

A gentle stroll around the park early in the morning is a great way to give them something to get up for so they are set up for the rest of the day. Take your dog with you and there’ll be a real purpose and sense of shared experience about it. Your relative won’t feel like you’re nagging them to exercise — they’ll feel like you want some company while you’re walking the dog.

Doing crafts together is a great stimulation for the brain

Whether it’s sewing, painting by numbers, building a model plane or even just a 500-piece jigsaw, getting them to think and be creative really helps. It’s too often the case that an elderly relative retreats to watching too much TV and feels increasingly alone and isolated if they don’t handle the winter cold snaps well.

By giving them a little project where they take the lead and you pitch in to help when you pop round, you can give them something stimulating and enjoyable to take ownership of. There’s also the really liberating sense of achievement that comes from completing these kinds of projects and the pride they’ll have in showing it off to other visitors.

Help them join the library and find a weekly reading group

Something as simple as joining a club for an activity you already enjoy doing can give you a real point of focus and an extra nudge of motivation. Libraries are free, typically easy to get to, and designed to be user-friendly for members of the older generation.

Many retirees enjoy the stimulation and companionship they can find in a regular reading group and really throw themselves into it. They’ll have a book to focus on, a deadline to meet and people they’ll look forward to seeing every week. All of this combines to fill a hole that can often develop when they have more free time than they know what to do with in the long winter months.

More and more of us are thinking of new ways to make use of the tools at our disposal. Online shopping apps can help elderly relatives keep their cupboards stocked when venturing into the cold becomes too much and you’re not available, while Kindles connect your loved one to a whole world of books to keep their mind stimulated. That said, it’s also important to keep an eye on the potentially addictive options like casino games online and social media. They can provide new avenues of entertainment for some, but usage needs to be balanced and proportionate.

 Hope this all helps and that you can feel the weight coming off your shoulders already.

Kokou Adzo

Kokou Adzo is a seasoned professional with a strong background in growth strategies and editorial responsibilities. Kokou has been instrumental in driving companies' expansion and fortifying their market presence. His academic credentials underscore his expertise; having studied Communication at the Università degli Studi di Siena (Italy), he later honed his skills in growth hacking at the Growth Tribe Academy (Amsterdam).


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