Helping Elderly Relatives With Home Hacks
This year, especially this Christmas, you might not be spending the day surrounded by family. Playing it safe and staying home is smart and safe, but there is one thing that will be missing from most people’s Christmas this year they probably haven’t thought about. I can sum it up in one very simple question:
“How do I get this thing to work?”
Yes. This year you won’t have to hear any parents or older relatives ask you how to work an Alexa, update a laptop, get the video chat on (everyone can Zoom now) or have to hear those questions that usually drive you up the wall. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be helping out, though.
I can’t remember where exactly I first read it, but there’s a simple way of reminding yourself to help elderly relatives with things around the home. It’s called The Lightbulb Test. The idea is that if you were visiting older relatives for the first time in a while, and you noticed that a light has stopped working, what else around the house needs looking at because they might not be able to do it?
I think it’s a good image to have cemented in your head when you’re talking to family over the phone or by video this year. And while you can’t be there to do it yourself, there are a few things you can nudge relatives to get up, walk around the house, and show you to make sure things are all good. Here are just a few to try out.
Prevent Heat Wastage
I don’t know about you, but when I think of being back at the family home in the wintertime, I know I’m walking into a house that is always warm. If your family are one to leave the heating on all day, make sure they aren’t wasting fuel. If they have old plastic valves on the radiators, get them swapped with some inexpensive thermostatic valves which help control heat output.
If they don’t have thermostatic radiator valves, get some cheap ones here delivered directly to their door. The next time you’re over at their house, you can pop them on without needing to get a plumber in.
Become Tech Support
Remember what I said about being asked to help update something or check that it’s working? This year take a deep breath (while possibly grabbing a stiff drink) and commit yourself to helping any older relative who asks to update anything they want. The easiest thing about this, especially if it’s something on their laptop, is that the likes of Zoom allow for screen sharing and control, so you can do it in real-time and be able to say “see, I’ve shown you exactly how to fix this.”
Throw some salt around
If you are going to visit family and will be staying at a safe distance, bring a bag of salt and a spade. You’re not going to be cooking anything special but checking their front and back porches to ensure there’s no risk of them having a fall if they decide to go outside. Throw salt or sand down and help prevent accessible areas from being slippery. It’s one of those tiny actions which can help prevent a major accident.
Just pick up the phone
With it being such a quiet time of year, it’s also the loneliest for many older people. Let’s be honest; most of us won’t have any grandiose plans or winter holidays booked away, so make time to phone as many older relatives as you can. Get numbers for everyone if you have to and lift the phone.
Even if it’s a five minute call to talk about the most mundane things with a relative you haven’t talked to in the longest time, it’s still five minutes they might otherwise have been sitting alone.
Sometimes the simplest things make people feel the happiest.