Helping someone with everyday tasks can be hard work, but it can make a vital difference to them being able to live independently. You are giving them the most incredible gift – that of the freedom to stay in their own home for as long as possible.
Your friend or relative may not always express gratitude for this support however, and could be resistant to your help. They might think that they don’t need any support, and that they are still fully capable of looking after themselves. Or it could be the case that they are used to be the one caring for you, for example if they are your partner, parent or grandparent, so it can be a big adjustment for the roles to be reversed. Perhaps they understandably don’t want to face that they are getting older, which can be a difficult thing to accept. All of this can make caring for them sometimes feel like quite a thankless task.
It can also mean that they may not ask for your help, even when they really need it. It is common for those who are elderly and frail to try and carry on with their everyday tasks as though they are still as young and sprightly as they used to be. Sometimes it takes something like them having a fall to make them (or indeed anyone else) realise that they need more support.
If you have a friend or relative who is frail and elderly, it is therefore worth trying to spend some time observing them carrying out their everyday tasks and watching for any where they seem to be struggling and might need a little assistance. You could even try to do an informal assessment of where they are living to make sure that it is set up correctly to meet their physical capabilities, and see if there are any aids or other equipment that may help them. If possible, it is good to repeat this regularly as they get older, in case their capabilities change.
There could be limitations on the care that you are able to provide for your friend or relative. You may live a long way away from them, or maybe there are some types of care, such as personal care, that you or they would rather you didn’t do. You may also not be quite as young as you used to be yourself – more than half of all carers in the UK are older than 55, and more than 20% are over 65  - so you may find it too physically demanding to carry out all the care needed alone. Or you may have other responsibilities in your life such as children, a job or other friends or family members requiring care.
You should not feel guilty about any of these limitations. You are providing as much help and support as you are able to. It is important, however, to try and be as honest as possible about what these limitations are, so that you are able to seek additional help for the elements you aren’t able to do.
Where possible it is good to speak to the person you care for directly about all the decisions taken around their care, so that they feel involved and empowered. This can make the whole process run smoothly and help them to retain as much dignity as possible.
For further advice about everyday tasks that you might need to assist with, take a look at our guide 'Helping someone with everyday tasks'. Often old age can bring with it other conditions which also impact on how you care for your friend or relative. You may therefore also find some of our other guides helpful too including 'Caring for someone with dementia', 'Caring for someone with sight loss' and 'Caring for someone with hearing loss'.