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How to Support Your Parents as They Support Your Grandparents

By Janet Tressier, Care Navigation Team Researcher

Maybe you have noticed that your grandparents need more help and depend more on your parent for that help. Maybe one or more of your grandparents have a new or progressive diagnosis and cannot care for themselves as they once did. It is common and natural for family members to want to help. Often it is the adult children who will step in where needed.

As your parents become more involved in your grandparents' care, you might wonder how you can help them.

If your parents are taking on the role of the primary Caregiver for your grandparents, you might offer support to them in several ways. Here are some helpful suggestions for you to do just that:

Updating your expectations for your parents and family as a whole will be helpful in a situation where someone has failing health, including memory loss and aging. It is beneficial for all involved not to expect life, daily living, holidays, celebrations, vacations, etc., to remain the way they have always been. Realizing this in advance can help you prepare mentally and emotionally for the changes you will observe in the coming days.

Offer to stay with your grandparents for a time so that your parents can rest, run errands, meet with friends, spend time with their grandchildren, go to appointments, etc.

Ask your parents if it would be helpful if you committed to a regular day or time each week to help them and to spend time with your grandparents.

Offer to run errands, pick up groceries, do some housekeeping, prepare meals, make phone calls, or do other tasks that might relieve stress on your parents.

Set aside time to spend with your parents and grandparents doing an enjoyable activity together. Making time to make a new memory together can take all the focus off the diagnosis and the pressures of daily living. Listening to music, taking a walk, doing a puzzle, sitting in the garden, playing a card game, watching a favorite tv show, or looking at photo albums are all excellent activities to consider.

Offer empathy and understanding to your parents, and try not to criticize them for the care they are offering your grandparents. If you observe something that concerns you, offer a solution and your help.

Don't assume that your parents will ask you for help. Have an ongoing conversation with them about your willingness to help, be involved, and participate in ways that will support them and lessen their stress.

Your VirtuALZ Team is here to support you on your Caregiving journey.


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