Things to Do For Elderly Parents When You Visit for the Holidays

edlincoln

What can you do for elderly parents when you visit them for the holidays?
Obviously this question only applies to parents who are living independently in their own house.

Also...this is limited to projects that can reasonably be completed over a long weekend.

What tasks are their that a Home Health Aid who visits a few times a week wouldn't see as her job, that might be easier for you then for an 80 year old?

I'd ask my parents, but they have a good sense of what I can and can't do for them on a long weekend. They don't seem to realize that sometimes the thing that's easier for them isn't the thing that's easier for me. (Moving that heavy crate is easier for me then sorting through it, troubleshooting the computer is easier then baking, driving a long distance on the highway at night is easier then navigating the maze like streets of the neighboring city where they grew up.)

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CA Kate z9

I'm an elder and so know what I like/need to have help with. Since I'm not sure if you're guy or gal I'll make my list for anyone.

clean the gutters - if you're able;

do paint touch-ups inside and outside;

change the furnace filters - or any filters that have to be changed;

prune the nasty bush by the front door/steps;

change/clean the tiny filter screens on the sink taps;

clean/wash out the trash/garbage bins;

clean out / sort a linen-type closet with parent present;

sort out the clothes closet since many elderly have a lot of clothes that no longer fit with parent present;

take (drive) them places they normally don't get to go - ei, the Hardware Store, clothing store, drug store, etc.;

perhaps there is a restaurant which they would like to go that would normally be too far away;

take them to visit a long-time, unvisited friend/relative;

clean out/ scrub the cabinets under the sinks - look for leaks;

move the washer and dryer and clean underneath, maybe vacuum the lint out the dryer inside and the ductwork - look for leaks;

move the refrigerator and clean under there, look for leaks, change those filters if there are any;

Sweep out the garage;

help make a favorite meal that Mom can't manage anymore;

make meals to freeze in portions;

check the irrigation system and make sure it all works correctly.

Well, you did ask! And, I could go on with more, but I think you get the idea. Pretend that: you can no longer climb a ladder; see to turn a screw; move a heavy object; get down on the floor - or get back up; safely cook a big meal; scrub or clean anything the way it needs doing; and you will find a whole list of needs.

Good luck on the many projects you will find.

Kate

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bossyvossy

for elders in cold climate we bring and stack firewood out in the patio and make sure the stack right by fireplace is always full. At least elder doesn't have to do it while we're there.

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mxyplux

Guess the first thing I'd do is determine if the poor old broken down bent and busted 80 year old (in your mind) actually really truly wants or needs anything done. If so then do it regardless - or don't make the offer. Be careful of stressing them out.

Nine parties were bringing us cooked food cause they knew I don't like to cook. What to heat up? Did I forget to thaw it out? Do I have to follow some directions? Is it something I really want to eat? Stress? When dinnertime came around I was a quivering mass of jelly. I finally said, "Enough already." Aaahhh. Tranquility.

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grandmamary_ga

Shovel snow, cook and freeze meals ahead of time for the freezer. Make sure it is dated and labeled. Just visit. See if they have any bills to pay and pay them for them if you can. Take them shopping if they can get out. Pictures are always nice. My mom had many photos and one day they were gone. Seems another resident liked the look of our family and took them to her room. Mom got a kick out of it. She didn't mind sharing us with her friends.


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edlincoln

CA Kate z9 Useful list. A bunch of those are things I do already. (ie Drive them around). A few are things I can't do. (Organizing the closet is a disaster...it's not something I can do for them after they go to bed BECAUSE they have to watch, and I don't add much to the process. Things I can do after they go to bed work out much better.) The furnace appears not to have filters. The home health aid is good with stews. The sink filter thing is one I haven't thought of. I'l have to do that. Yes, do go on. I"d like to hear more suggestions. That's why I asked. And hey, why does my gender matter in this? :-)

grandmamary_ga:

Paying bills is tricky. I don't want to intrude too much in their finances, seem like I'm taking over. Also, when I try to help them with paperwork there always end up having to be a lot of information I need from them and things they need to sign...so one again, not something I can do without consulting them after they go to bed.
Another reason I like a white Christmas is I can shovel while I'm down...

mxyplux: I'm asking this question and planing ahead to to avoid the redundant task everyone does. I find everyone brings desserts, for instance. They last better in the car if you have a long drive or have to mail them. Everyone likes them. But my parents end up with far too many.

Asking them what they need is the obvious thing but doesn't work out as well as you would think. I end up committed to a task I can't do, or they could do easier then I. I find they don't have a good sense of what I can and can't do on a weekend visit. They tend to be focused on the tasks they can do, or could do recently. They also got in the habit of less physically strenuous "work arounds" that turn out to be much harder for me. I can get to the attic, move a box to the cellar, or drive on the highway at night...Figuring out Mom's recipe for Mexican wedding cakes or navigating the back roads of that neighboring city are more difficult for me then they would be for my parents.

I really like to focus on heavy lifting, tech support, and distance driving.

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mxyplux

>> I find they don't have a good sense of what I can and can't do on a weekend visit. They tend to be focused on the tasks ...<<

Well I hadn't thought about it that way. I see your point; understand it better.

I too focus on lifting and long line night driving. 10-4?

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CA Kate z9

I guess I mostly mentioned the things my son does for me over a long weekend, but he does this all during the day, not at night. When we (they) prepare big meals for the hordes while here there are usually some left-overs for me to make up and freeze into future meals for myself... which are always greatly appreciated in the future.

When my own Mom was needing a lot of my presence in her home (because of Chemo) I told her that I couldn't stand to just sit around all day. With her permission and cooperation, she would sit in her chair and I would take everything out of a closet or cupboard or dresser; we would look it over and she would decide if she still needed whatever; what went back was neatly folded or hung or arranged, and the rest went to a charity - or the trash.

Why do you feel you can only do tasks at night?

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edlincoln

It's not that I can *ONLY* do tasks at night. However, when I do things with my parents, it tends to go VERY slowly. My Mom tends to micromanage. Just based on our relationship, it is difficult for us to work together.
Also, this is a plan for Christmas. The day will be filled with holiday stuff and relatives. And we *DO* spend some time just being together.

However, if I can identify tasks I can do after my parents go to bed (or when they take naps) with no input, I can whiz around the house and get a massive amount of stuff done. One problem they run into is that while there is very little my Dad CAN'T do, he does it slowly and because he tires he has fewer good functional hours a day. He can do almost anything, he just can't do everything. He can cook or clean or pay the bills...pick any one.


I do feel the same about "sitting around all day" as you do.

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Maisie (6b)

You might try dealing with the things that are up high - changing lightbulbs in overhead lights (and cleaning the shades!) changing batteries in smoke detectors, that sort of thing. Porch lights, garage lights and basements lights can be a hassle to change and sometimes folks will tolerate low light levels for too long. Again it won't take much time for you but might be appreciated. You might want to check and see if there is enough light in these places and add some fixtures if needed.

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CA Kate z9

Excellent suggestion, Maisie.

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grandmamary_ga

My neighbor is about 10 years older than us and she is constantly asking my hubby to do things around her house for her. Now my husband is my care giver as I just had open heart surgery recently. She never asks how I am doing just him to do things for her. She always asks him to change a light bulb or look under her sink or assist moving her outdoor plants indoors. I often wonder who she asks to run her vacuum as she has the nastiest floors . They never seem to be clean. She also asks someone to do her lawn. She searches for anyone who will do things for free, Now she has no family in our town as they live in Wisconsin. We are in Georgia. She never puts up any holiday decorations or is invited out. We had her once to our house for a holiday meal as we felt that she shouldn't be alone but we were watching a childrens show for our grandkids and she left the room. We have tried to include her in our holiday. Seems he has now moved on to the younger couple in our neighborhood.

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sunnyca_gw

I think others covered a lot but you say" over Christmas" so are there beds to be made up, linens to be washed, bathroom to be spruced up, fridge needing to be cleaned out, especially of outdated bottles & food in containers. Cooking for elderly doesn't have to be difficult. I often buy a couple of yams & cook in microwave(wash & poke skin with fork in several places so doesn't explode) when done cool yams & cut in serving size pieces (I remove skin but some like it) & put in sandwich bags(kind that just fold over & put in Ziploc bag & label with date & what is in the bag. I store, yams, green beans, squash, bread stuffing, etc & I never thaw anything out. I make soups & put in small round margarine tubs each holds 1 cup (So leave a little space so doesn't boil over when you make them up)so take lid off to side(so just partly covered) & reheat about 3 1/2 minutes. Chili same way, yams couple of slices about 1 minute(microwaves vary) just add butter to serve. I make a meatloaf in a 9x5 loaf pan & freeze slices in amount I think I will eat in sandwich bags & then in Ziploc bag & can have hot meatloaf sandwich in 1 minute or meatloaf, yams, green beans in about 3 minutes. it's very easy to eat well. Leftover steak from eating out, bring it home & pkg it in sandwich bags & in Ziploc bag for 1 or2 meals in few days. Couldn't eat that big baked potato, cut it in sizes you will eat at 1 time & slip in sandwich bags, zip loc bag& freeze, I simply fold over the sandwich bags or twist & fold over before putting in freezer Ziploc bags. Can use cheaper Zip loc type bags or wash & reuse, throw out the sandwich bags after food is heated. Use Sharpie pen to label Zip loc bags & use up foods in couple of months to 6 months. Spaghetti mixed with sauce & meat, macaroni, casseroles, scalloped potatoes & ham, all freeze great in single serving sandwich bags & reheat in microwave in about 3-4 minutes at most. I did this for my folks for years. If you can't cook & like something like hamburger helper made it up & freeze. I cook chicken breasts & use half of them for sandwiches & rest becomes chicken soup, so make ways to make it, with noodles, rice, cook bag of mixed veggies up in microwave & add whole thing including water you cooked veggies in &add seasonings, can add low sodium tomatoes from can of tomato sauce, mushrooms from can or barley etc. Lots of choices. Anyway hope you are well armed with ideas to make things go smoother. Merry Christmas to All!

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sunnyca_gw

Oh, solving the "sitting around problem" knit, crochet, do crossword puzzles ,read a magazine or book, exercise to trim whatever bothers you. Balance your checkbook, write you kid a letter, especially if they are in college, they love snail mail!

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edlincoln

I do make a point of bringing reading matter. Exercising with other people around makes me nervous...and I have limited equipment down there

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Pea

Anything heavy or up high i think are good starts. Cleaning air intakes, dusting ceiling fans, dusting high shelves, cleaning under the stove, scrubing down the upper cabinets, taking down the drapes for cleaning and putting them back up, vacuming under furniture that needs to be moved, window washing. When i had two elderly ladies living next to me i would go over and clip their cat's nails and he liked to play alot and would accidently scratch them and i am very good with cats.

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sunnyca_gw

Year ago I told son I would like some new kitchen & hall ceiling fixtures, LED lights. Home Depot had some & each were only about $30 each. They are enclosed so no standing on chair to take shade down & maybe falling, I'm 75 now & don't need broken bones. The kitchen 1 is about 14 in. across with a nice piece in center of metal & metal around the edge(can get brushed nickel-matches my faucet or gold colored) & so much light I can't believe it. so smaller 1 over sink & then 2 in the halls. Some have like snaps on a tape & that's where light comes from. Nothing to maintain except wipe off outside occasionally , I liked them so well I replaced all lights in house, 99cent store had bulbs that are LED & bills are lower than they were. Got new shop light for garage too. So you might consider that, they are easy to change in garage. Just take old 1 down & plug in new 1 after you put it on the hooks. Need to change bulb in garage door opener too. Did the yard light & patio as easy to forget to turn off & these are 60 watt is only 13 watts in LED. Come in different wattages. My mom had such heavy ceiling fixtures that I had to have my brother take them down & put them back up.

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