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Offering Practical Help to Loved Ones During Holiday Visits

12/1/2017

The holidays are a special time for family and friends to get together. It’s not uncommon for us to visit a senior loved one who would benefit from our help. As you make your holiday plans, think about how you can help your loved one with things in the home so they don’t have to do it later. Offering your assistance during your holiday visit is a great way to show love and support in ways that linger on throughout the year.

First of all, communicate to your loved one while planning your trip that during your visit you want them to know you are available to help with anything they can think of. While their initial response may be to turn down your offer, giving them time to consider the benefits may open some doors. Whatever their response, send your loved one some handmade “coupons” for them to fill out with things they need done, and mail them in advance. Then they can give them to you when you arrive. This will help them remember your offer and give them time to think about it.

Expressing ahead of time your sincere desire to help them can also allow you to point out things you see during your visit that need “fixing” without them feeling like you’re criticizing their ability to live independently.

There are many practical things you can help with during your visit this holiday. The following are a few:

  1. Check on health issues. Is your loved one managing how they are taking their medications? Do they need to schedule vision, hearing or physical checkups?
  2. Is there anything in their home they need help with like changing smoke detector batteries, lightbulbs or air filters, or even defrosting the freezer? Do they need some boxes put into storage or taken to a second-hand shop? Maybe they just want to rearrange the furniture.
  3. How are they handling their affairs, such as managing finances, keeping insurances updated, and getting around for social activities or fellowship?

Sometimes we are not sure how to approach the subject of offering our help; or when we do, our loved one just refuses any help, or says that they can’t think of anything they need. It’s hard for them to think of specific things they need help with when asked on the spot, and they might even feel that admitting they need help may be admitting they are not able to live independently. Still, it’s OK to remind them that you are always willing to help, because you want them to be comfortable and safe, and you understand that it’s natural that there may be some things they cannot easily do anymore. Saying this may put their mind at ease.

All that you do is appreciated, even if it’s just to clean, fix a meal, or help your loved one shop. Remind them that you want to help because you are thankful for them, and not because they can’t be independent. Let your loved one serve you, too. It brings pride and joy to them. It is sometimes important that they do what they can for themselves, such as their own laundry, because it is an acknowledgement to you and themselves of their continued independence.

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