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Dealing With the In-Laws: Top Tips for Looking After Elderly Guests

2nd Oct 2013

Whether they are the in-laws or your own parents, the majority of us, at some point in our lives, will have elderly guests in our households.

And as we all know, caring for elderly guests and family members isn’t always straight forward. There can be some cause for conflict, even at the best of times, so here are some tips to help you cope with looking after those in their later years when they come to stay (whether temporarily or permanently).

Be mature

Your parents have to love you; it’s in the contract, but your in-laws don’t. Accept the fact that your in-laws aren’t your parents and won’t always follow the same rules. Try to think ‘different’ – not ‘better’ or ‘worse’.  To make this work, give in on small points and negotiate the key issues. This should be a mutual arrangement so remember there should be give and take on both sides.

Set boundaries

It is important to set boundaries and stick to them. There’s no need to be rude about them but if you let things slide once then they will forever disregard your boundaries.

Work with your spouse and decide what is important and what is not. Think of your children too and what boundaries you have for them. You need to make sure your in-laws keep to these rules too and don’t undermine your authority by letting the kids stay up late or eat sweets before dinner.

With some in-laws you may have to explain why your boundaries are what they are; just as you would to your own children. Sometimes grandparents forget what it was like to have small children and all that’s needed is a gentle reminder.

Be considerate

You may want things in your house to go as you like but you need to be considerate of those who may not be able to follow your household routines as you wish. Be considerate of your in-laws needs and limitations. It may go in your favor to consider your in-laws physical limits and to be that extra helpful and caring in-law yourself. Install a home stairlift to help your in-laws get about your home more comfortably and remember to consider things like their diet – after all, they may have dentures and not be able to eat all the foods that you can.

Think about the snacks you put out and try to avoid crunchy crisps, peanuts or anything which could get caught beneath the plate and cause discomfort. When cooking dinner, think about your vegetables and ensure that the meal you prepare takes into account any special dietary requirements the elderly may have to follow for health reasons.

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