Giving the gift of love and patience is more transformative than we might know.
I had the privilege of caring for my elderly mother until she died at the age of 91. I cared for her daily until I moved to another city, and then I returned four times a year to be her caregiver for long stretches at a time.
I bathed her, took care of her when she was sick, changed her diapers, listened to her for hours on the same topic, consoled her when she cried, fed her, let her win at cards so she wouldn’t get mad, prayed and talked about heaven with her … and I wouldn’t change those moments for anything.
Making an elderly person happy isn’t hard. They can seem very demanding, but all they need is our time, patience, and love.
Here are some suggestions of ways to make an elderly parent happy …
- Take them to visit friends and family. If you can’t, organize with someone who can. Friendships are always necessary at any age.
- Stop arguing with them. Let them feel like they are right. It gives them security.
- Let them live amidst their memories. Often, it’s all they have left, and it’s important to them.
- Let them talk, even if they repeat the same story a hundred times. Listen and treasure their words, which are pure wisdom.
- Make them feel like you need them, that they are useful to you and not a burden.
- Let them do most things, and only help them as needed.
- Play with them at what they most enjoy, and let them win (within reason).
- Listen to music from their era. Let them tell you a story that has to do with this or that song.
- Let them get mad and have their tantrums as if they were a child. But don’t treat them like a child — treat them like an adult who deserves all your respect and understanding.
- Motivate them to take care of their personal hygiene and upkeep. Encourage her to wear a little makeup, and motivate him to shave. What is their favorite lotion? Gift it to them.
- Talk to them in a serene tone of voice. Say thanks and tell them you love them. Tell them how much you value their life, time, and knowledge.
- Get into their world. Get into their stories, as if they were happening now.
- Touch them, hug them, spoil them, fill them with kisses … Show them your tenderness and warmth.
- Look at their photos and let them tell you the story behind them. Let yourself be surprised at what you hear.
- Pray with them. Most older adults are quite good at it!
- Simply ask: “What can I do for you today to make you happy?”
Many of us have had the immense blessing of caring for an elderly parent. If you haven’t, try giving them some of your time.
Yes, it can be very tiring and sometimes quite exhausting, but at the end of the day you’ll go to bed with a smile on your face. There is nothing better than serving and spending time with our elders.
Love, take care of, and protect their weakness. Remember that everything in them is a big gift of life!