“Grandpa, Do You Need Help?”

It always a difficult conversation: The grandparent who was there raising you since you were tiny, now needs help from you. It is often difficult for a grown grandchild to offer their help to their grandparent – and the main issue is pride. Pride in ability, pride in independence. Seniors dread the day that they may have to relinquish any of their independence – and when their grandchildren grown up and begin asking if they can help them instead of the other way around, it can be hard to accept.

So how does a grandchild approach the topic?

  • Be empathetic: Try to see things from Grandpa’s perspective. Now that you are grown up and independent doesn’t mean that he doesn’t remember you as a giggling toddler. He has done a lot in his life, and you still need to respect his experience.
  • Help where you can help: You are here because your grandparents raised you right, and you want to help. But know your place, and know your limits. If Grandpa needs a simpler TV, get him one. If Grandpa needs more company, asking one of his random neighbours to pop in might not be as useful as sending a trained caregiver.
  • Ask questions: It helps to understand your grandparent’s life. Know what their medical concerns are; know who in the local area looks out for them; and know who has the power of attorney (if this isn’t done – do it now!).
  • Moving Day: The hardest day is the day that your grandparent needs to move to assisted living. Approach the topic gently, while respecting their authority. “Grandpa, are you managing?”, is better than “Grandpa, look at these brochures. I think you should sell your house”. They are still adults, after all.
  • Be the grandkid: One of the greatest joys in your grandparent’s life has always been you. Just because you’re all grown up now, doesn’t mean you have to stop being their adoring grandkid. Involve them in your life, call often, and listen to their stories!