Dear June: How to Help an Elderly Parent Who Lives Alone

October 13, 2020 Updated: October 13, 2020

Dear June,

My mom is elderly and lives alone. What are some things that I can do to help her?

Tatiana D., Virginia

Dear Tatiana,

First and foremost, make sure you are keeping tabs on her physical safety and emotional health. If you are not close enough to check in with her regularly, perhaps a neighbor or friend can do this, or you can hire someone. Some meal delivery and cleaning services might also be a good idea.

There are companies that specialize in home amendments for the elderly, such as railings and appliances that require less strength or precision and can help her stay as long as possible in her home, if that is the goal. My grandmother lived alone at home well into her 90s and wore a necklace that would allow her to call for help if she fell.

How is your relationship with your mother? If there has been any tension, now is the time to let go of any hard feelings. No mother is perfect, and for some women, motherhood does not come easily. And don’t underestimate what is possible to forgive. In his book “Love as a Way of Life,” Dr. Gary Chapman recounts the story of a woman whose father abused her as a teen, but she chose to forgive him and be at his side during his final weeks.

Caring for the elderly can feel like a burden; however, as children, it surely was not easy to care for us. Hopefully, you can find some rituals that you both enjoy. My father ate Sunday breakfast with his mother in her later years and would often spell out sayings in wooden children’s blocks and set them on the molding above a door for her to read during the week.

Plan to visit as often as you can, at least once a week if you are local, and encourage other family members to visit as their circumstances permit.

Children in their innocence have great joy and wonder, and the elderly with their life experiences have wisdom and a detachment that most of us in the middle of our busy lives cannot attain. Even if this wisdom is hidden under aches and complaints, it is beautiful and well worth appreciating, if you can draw it out.



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June Kellum is a married mother of two and longtime Epoch Times journalist covering family, relationships, and health topics.