Learn How To Figure Out New Tasks


People who help older adults often face new situations. They might start helping with a task while they still have questions about why or how to do it. They might not know to connect with local resources that could make things easier for them and the older adult. Taking on new tasks is easier if the person who’s helping:

  • Understands what the task does and doesn’t involve

  • Has a sense of the bigger picture

  • Can get training from more experienced people

  • Gets feedback and support from others

  • Is patient with themselves as they learn

To understand the task and the bigger picture, helpers can ask about:

  • What task the older adult needs help with, when and how often

  • What information and skills are needed to do the task

  • Who can answer questions about the task

  • What local resources help with similar needs

  • The older adult’s abilities, health and home situation

  • Who else is helping and how they’re helping the older adult

Information and training help people take on new tasks. People who may offer or can recommend workshops, classes, instructional videos or guides include:

  • Health professionals, therapists, geriatric social workers, lawyers or case managers

  • Local caregiver support groups, Family Caregiver Alliance or Caregiver Action Network

  • Groups focused on specific conditions, like the Alzheimer’s Association or American Cancer Society

  • The local Senior Center, Aging Unit, Area Agency on Aging, or Aging and Disability Resource Center

When someone takes on a new task, it can take time for them to feel comfortable doing it. Others can help by answering questions and giving feedback. Many tasks can be done in different ways. If there are disagreements, people can discuss whether there’s a “right” and “wrong” way, or just “my” and “your” way to do the task. If someone isn’t able to take on a new task, solutions include asking other family or friends to help, looking for community programs or paying helpers.