Respecting Your Elderly Relative In The Latter Stages Of Life

Caring for older family members
Age brings dignity and the elderly deserve the utmost of respect from us. Flickr, CC BY 2.0.
Caring for older family members
Age brings dignity and the elderly deserve the utmost of respect from us. Flickr, CC BY 2.0.

Many people feel that the elderly are somewhat inconvenient. These people do not, or have not, experienced the wealth of getting to know an elderly relative or friend. Remember, the elderly do not exist in a static state. They weren’t ‘born old.’ They have lived a life of full experiences, lived through social situations and adventures you can only imagine, no matter how modest and humble they might seem at this stage in their life. Age brings with its dignity, and dignity brings with it independence. The elderly deserve respect, the utmost respect we can give.

What follows is a list of ways we can respect our elderly friends or family, to make them feel what they are, truly and completely vital to the fabric of a great society.


We all know that with age comes with it growing health concerns. As someone reaches the age of 70 or 80, it’s not hard to imagine that the care we should give will need to be nuanced in its structure and intended aims. Not only this, but we will need to be certain that we are giving this care in a way that is desired, wanted, and truly necessary.

For example, many family members feel when their relative gets to a certain age, or their health declines to a point where daily independent living is inconvenient (not always impossible,) they will place their relative in an assisted living home. This has a wealth of benefits for the right person of age, but it is quite a blunt strategy to take. Sometimes, the shock of being ripped from home lived in for years and placed in a new, strange place with strange people can feel quite world shifting.

If your elderly relative warrants it, in home care can be a perfect balance between the regular scheduling of their daily life with the dignity of privately having their excess needs taking care of. This way, your relative feels as though you respect them enough to give them the space and quiet ownership of the house they have come to know and love, while also showing that you want them to live in that house in the most comfortable and safe way possible.


The elderly are a wonderful, first-hand source of history. This is why it’s so important to bring your children to visit their grandparents and nurture a close relationship between the two. The elderly are usually fountains of wisdom, little tidbits that can surprise both you and your child are likely to crop up regularly. An elderly relative is usually emboldened by visitation and the fact that you care about their views. It places them in the position they deserve, as the matriarch or patriarch of the family unit. There is nothing your grandparent or parents cares more about than you and your children, so be sure to visit them regularly to keep this love nurtured. Call them without a reason to do so, and take them aside to voice your appreciation and love for them regularly. This is what feeds an elderly soul. There is nothing more respectful.

The previous tips will help you strengthen your bond with the head of the family, and the benefits of doing so will blossom for some time to come.


  1. I love talking to them. So much to learn and enjoy listening to. I took care of my grandpa and I loved the time we had left together. I learned so many things I never knew about his life. ( He got me into Big Bands music 😊 )

  2. An elderly person is the treasure of past life with full experience and knowledge. Care and listening are the essential aspects of old age when brain and body are not functioning properly. The support of relatives may be helpful in loneliness and desperation. I appreciate your writing about elderly people. Thank you very much.

  3. Sweet and powerful post, Christy. I love how you refer to elderly relatives as “fountains of wisdom.” We will all be elderly one day, and we can learn to cope with aging by loving and listening to our fragile loved ones.

  4. Irrespective of age, a person’s experience(s), lifestyle, should never be disregarded, disrespected, “steam-rolled” over, it was how they knew or know life as being, provides inner happiness.

    “Age brings with its dignity, and dignity brings with it independence” – I will slightly, only slightly disagree with this statement, via having experienced my father having been in hospital etc, where he said “there is no dignity in old age”, as have others. Seeing him in this situation, I could understand where these words came from.

    It may be that in their eyes, if they decrease their independence, decrease it further than it already is, give it up, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, they are relinquishing the little dignity, independence they think they have, therefore based on their experience(s), thinking it the end, or at least it near.

    At the end of the day, I wouldn’t think anyone would like these thoughts, irrespective of age.

    • As an addition, I realise your post is more to do with elderly in the latter stages of life but (oh oh, here’s me being me again), does everyone not have an ‘elder(s)’ who should be respected, irrelevant of their stage in life?

    • But don’t you think he felt no dignity because of the environment, specifically because of the ageist treatment that happens in some hospitals and senior care facilities? When an elder is not given respectful treatment then it takes away his or her dignity. Just a thought xx

      • Partly yes to the environment.

        I wouldn’t bring age into it, remember in today’s society, there is not supposed to be ageism.

        The way I dealt with it, deal with it, although I’m not a parent and never will be, I would now compare it to bringing up a child in their very early years although, during a child’s early years they haven’t yet discovered their voice, which as you go through years, encountering situations, learning, you do and although it becomes ‘your voice’ or at least you think it is yours, you can never quite be sure what it is going to say (hope that makes sense, ever thought to yourself, did I just say that!?!, sometimes followed by, ‘wash my mouth out, with soap and water’).

        Despite the environment and situation he was in, it did bring some fun moments, fun memories, he did keep his sense of humour, which is good to have, keep for any situation, know when to use, everything too serious these days.

        What I would say in regards to hospitals & care facilities, these service providers is, they need to be very, very careful, 110% certain, they have the right people in the right roles. Over the year’s, not just in relation to this scenario, I have become aware of differences in how people that want to be there, doing a role and people that don’t want to be there, doing the role, actually do the role. x

  5. I can remember my grandma (my dads mum) vaguely as she died when I was about 5 years old. I loved her and I have one memory in particular that sticks in my mind. I never knew my grandad (again on my dads side) as I was much younger when he passed away. My grandparents on mums side I never knew as they dies when I was either very young or before I was born.
    I am having time enjoying my uncle, knowing more about him than I have ever done. I make sure I at least see him once every month. I don’t want to lose contact with him and I want to check he is ok as it was only new years eve when he lost his wife (my mums sister.) My uncle I see as a father figure which I always have growing up. For his age, he does very well and I only hope this continues for more years to come.

  6. This makes me sad as it reminds me that my parents are growing old 🙁 i took them for granted when I was younger. But with growing older myself, and since been through Motherhood, I have learnt to appreciate them so much. I no longer take for granted their recommendations. I take time to spend with them! Respect them.
    There is always so much to learn from them!

  7. Sean’s Grandma is 94. She lives at home and has a daily caregiver – who actually just died unexpectedly this week. They were together 6 years so this will be quite an adjustment on top of the grief. However, Sean’s mum has been adamant that she stay in her own home, only because her body is failing, her mobility is limited, but her mind is sharp as ever. In a care facility, her needs are high enough that she’d be placed on a floor with the most challenging cases – most often, Alzheimer’s patients, and she fears this would isolate her mother.
    Sean’s other grandmother, turning 94 later this year, is in a retirement home, but still drives and travels the world. She enjoys the social aspect but does not require any care and is still independent so it’s a great solution for her.

  8. Thank you, Christy, for creating awareness for respecting the elderly. One of my deepest regrets is that I did not take the opportunity to take more time to learn more about my mother when I was younger. It was not until I was older that I understood the hardships my mother faced raising 5 children when she was widowed at age 40. She left an inspirational legacy which I hope I can continue.

    Best wishes,

  9. To be able to respect the elderly, we must learn ‘old’ when ‘young’. Unfortunately, that consciousness is metaphysical. Conscious can be interpreted not drunk. Not conscious = drunk. If we do not: respect, care, listen, to the elderly, do we get drunk? Metaphysical consciousness, like physical skills, must be developed. Your post leads to a higher consciousness. Awww I also realize, that your knowledge is much higher than just what you write. You are a mirror. Smart mirror for the soul. You are young, you must be better than Freud, Maslow, Erikson, Piaget, Jung, Wilber or Skinner. All you need is another perspective. You can do that. You are very smart. You can align your heart and brain waves, that’s why you can work quickly, Christy. Hugs

  10. I have always felt the same way about the elderly. The history and insight they can share with us are undeniably full of heart and the depths of their souls. My own mother is in her mid 70’s and has had several health issues over several years, but I find her to be one of the most intelligent women I know. Her mind is sharp, and the tremendous wit about her is like no young chick.
    All my friends, for the most part, are older than myself by 10+ years. I find myself rather fortunate and blessed to have all of them in my life.
    Awesome piece. Thank you for sharing.

  11. This is just such a perfect post, so honest and true. I couldn’t place my parents in a care home hence my decision to stay home to care for them and with them. I try to give them as much independence as I can and ensure I’m there to step in. We have two fabulous companion carers who call in during the week and they have great chats with M & D. My friends are angels who call in and chat away to my parents and love to hear their stories and thoughts. I’m blessed with a b/f who also sits and talks away with them when he is here and he goes with Dad to do small DIY jobs that Dad would like to do. You are spot on when you say these things are important to them, my parents relish visitors and it really helps break up the week for them. Thank you for your lovely post 😊

  12. Great post Christy. My mother in law is in her 80’s and living in an assisted care facility. It is a really good one, and she gets treated with so much respect. We had Mother’s Day brunch there (10 of us), and she was beaming with pride, the center of attention and surrounded by love. So important.

  13. Actually I am eighty and want to speak out for those of us who don’t think of ourselves as much different from the rest of the population once we get going on our handy rollator walkers. I think old age is a relative concept. I do appreciate the wheel chairs in airports when I fly around visiting relatives.

  14. It is a tragedy when we as a society do not listen to, or take seriously our elderly citizens. They have so much to offer and someday we’ll all be in their shoes. Great post, Christy!

  15. I got to see this a lot recently during my hospital visits… The way I was treated and how the elders were – stark contrast! I was treated sane while they were considered borderline senile. Was horrible!

    • Yes, it’s ageism that you saw, unfortunately, Prajaka. The mistreatment is not what those patients deserve.. Your kind heart shows through in your passionate comment here xx

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