Family and Friends

Tips for Families on How to Care for Grandparents

Learn How to Care for Elder Family Members with Compassion for All Involved

Taking care of elderly family members who are experiencing the challenges of aging, chronic illness, or debilitating disease can be a challenge for everyone. These challenges, of course, directly affect the “sandwich generation” – or those who are called to provide for their children and elderly family members simultaneously.

Taking care of elderly loved ones is a fact of life that, while stressful, represents an important – if under-acknowledged – part of having a loving family. Duty sometimes calls. The overwhelming feelings that come with this responsibility, including uncertainty, fear, time-constraint-related stress can sometimes get in the way of compassionate decisions that can benefit everyone involved – the cared-for and the caretaker.

However, a few simple tips can improve the experience of caring for grandparents and other elders in your family. When the responsibility falls upon you to provide love, support, and attention during someone’s last years of life, you can answer the call with preparedness and a loving touch.

#1 – Understanding How to Give Care

The first consideration families need to make is to determine when and how to provide care. An appropriate care response is the most important part of care. If inaccurate or ineffective services are selected, the elderly person in your life won’t be able to get their needs met. This means beginning the process by doing research into the kind of care to provide. Does the grandparent in your life need daily check-ins? Multiple check-ins per day? A new living situation? Home health care services? Hospice care?

Working with medical professionals, you can make a decision that is appropriate to the person’s quality of life, mobility, medical needs, and more. Fortunately, home health care services provided are not only able to provide these services, but can also recommend alternatives when needed. Having someone in your corner who has medical expertise can go a long way in eliminating care services that won’t work while considering the best options available.

#2 – Communicate with Family Members Who Can Help

Our second tip concerns communication with family members. If family members are going to specifically contribute to providing in-home care or even simply pay visits or provide extra needs at senior living communities or residential care centers, it is a good idea to create well-defined roles for family members. When taking care of an elderly loved one, emotions can run high and the burden of caretaking (which is important to acknowledge, as much of the advice available is only about the positive feelings) can overwhelm the central focus: to ensure the comfort and care of someone you love.

Sit down with family members who intend to be a part ascaregivers. Even if you are simply deciding who is going to be the point of contact for in-home health services or updates from a senior living community or center, it is good to get the logistics set in stone, so the focus can be on the compassion required to take care of someone with many needs. This also provides more space for decompressing emotions without having to think logistically on the fly.

#3 – For Grandparents at Home, Stick with Basics and Leave the Rest to Medical Professionals

If the loved one you are caring for is at home – ensure that they are getting the medical help they need regularly, whether that’s an outstanding in-home health care provider or daily-to-weekly trips to medical facilities for treatments and tests. There are many things within your control that don’t involve direct medical care that can make a big impact on your loved one.

  • Ensure that smart home one-touch medical emergency monitoring devices are set up appropriately in the home for safety’s sake.
  • Establish a routine with your elderly loved one, so they look forward to your visit at certain times a day. This makes a difference, even if your loved one has experienced significant memory or sensory loss.
  • Bring grandchildren along for light, relaxing play, conversation, walks, and chores. Grandchildren can learn how to contribute to the care of their family members with easy responsibilities that make them feel a part of the experience while brightening their grandparent’s day.
  • Perhaps most importantly, try to practice radical listening. This means two things: when your loved one is communicating, be sure to listen to their needs and acknowledge them as best you can. This creates a two-way street of care where you are empowering your loved one and giving them dignity by including them in a care-focused collaboration.

Radical listening also means using your other available senses and instincts to determine what is needed. Does something seem off? Is there something missing from your loved one’s treatment plan that you need to advocate for? These kinds of observations can lead to big breakthroughs – and maximum care and comfort – for this family member.

In Closing: Bring Your Best Self and You’ll Provide Exactly What Your Loved One Needs

Whenever we lead with our best selves, the right things happen. Ensuring we communicate clearly and effectively with our family members about a plan for care can go a long way. Providing the proper care at the proper times makes for an effective, empowering experience for you and your loved ones.

Finding opportunities to prepare, listen, and love consistently can make a big difference in the life of someone struggling with illness and the challenging effects of aging. Most importantly, you are carrying on a time-honored tradition of ensuring that our family members have everything they need, so they can live rich lives all the way to their conclusion.








11 thoughts on “Tips for Families on How to Care for Grandparents

  • I love that concept of “Radical Listening” — I’ve never heard it put that way before. This post hits me right where I am in life, with aging parents + teens & young adults to support. Super helpful, thank you!

  • You have some great tips here! I am grateful my parents have made plans to go into a retirement home before things get rough. That way they already are in a place that can help.

  • These are useful tips. It is hard to take care of your parents.

  • These are all really great and very helpful tips! Taking care of our elderly is really hard.

  • This can be helpful! What a really helpful advice and tips you have here thanks for sharing this with us

  • I agree that it’s so important to communicate with family members about each person’s responsibilities!

  • These are great tips. We did just about all of it while caring for my Dad in his last years.

  • I am dreading the day when I need help with day to day care. I have health issues already and I’m only 46.

  • We took care of my grandparents and we did our best to give them the care that they needed. These are great tips.

    • Your tips are beneficial, thanks for sharing them! Having all this information is very helpful to me

  • It is good to have a care plan in place as our family members age. These are all good points to think about.


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