Your parents could probably use your help. So could Aunt Peggy, Uncle Phil…or the honorary ‘aunts’ and ‘uncles’ that have been an encouragement over the years. Here are 20 ways to do just that.
1. Listen to them. Instead of zipping in and out, bring two coffees and plan to stay for some time.
2. Ask questions. Not only do people enjoy talking about themselves, but you’ll get clues to what’s really on their mind.
3. Glance at their mail…if it’s okay with them. If they’re being scammed by someone, or pestered by political or “starving children” groups up to no good, you’ll probably see the evidence.
4. Make phone calls on their behalf. Do they have a question about their credit card, utilities or doctor bill — but are too afraid to deal with the automated voices and rigamarole? Fine — do it for them.
5. Write. If you live two blocks or two hundred miles away, a hand-written note will be appreciated.
6. Include stamps. That way, your loved ones can write back.
7. Have basic items delivered. Amazon has regular ‘warehouse deals’ on everything from detergent to protein bars. Find out what they like, then stock up. They enjoy their favorite shampoo or snacks — and you get it cheaper than if buying a few at a time. Plus: the shipping’s free.
8. Have groceries delivered. Many local grocery stores now offer this service, including our local Krogers/King Soopers chain. It’s easy to set up a one-time visit — or regular ones. (Learn more about it here.)
9. Hire household help. (Some states pay for this, to keep seniors out of care facilities and staying in their own homes.) Not only Or:
10. Ask (or hire) another relative to help out, even if it’s a few hours a week. Or do it yourself.
11. Don’t give them tchotchkes for birthdays and Christmas. They’ve probably got enough decorative vases and picture frames to choke a horse. Instead:
12. Get them practical presents: luxury food items they especially like (and can’t afford to buy). Warm robes and heavy socks. Gift memberships to places they enjoy visiting – or movie tickets. Don’t forget:
13. Gift cards. These mail so easily, and let your loved ones go out to eat whenever they like. (Don’t pick the restaurant you like — get it for the one they’re partial to!) A small check, sent regularly, can have the same encouraging effect.
15. Research income possibilities. Are they collecting the pension, Social Security and insurance payments they’re entitled to? Do they need money, and own their place? Then:
16. Research reverse mortgages. Would this work better than a sale?
17. Recommend a trust. It saves money and time, with less time and expenses probating a will. (Although a will’s not a bad idea, either.)
18. Find a good lawyer to help. That way, you can stay out of the doings…and keep a safe distance from their estate decisions.
19. Help them prepare for seasonal changes. Are their irrigation systems ‘blown’ out, plus garden hoses put away for the season? Has their car had a tuneup, and antifreeze added to the system? You’ll find ideas for winterizing here, plus other posts on the MLF site.
20. Express your love every way you can. Physical pats and hugs, talking about them in a positive way to others, and those three little words, said whenever possible: