Remember those days when you were a teenager and you thought your parents just didn’t understand anything you were going through? Perhaps you have now been on the other side of that fence when your teens thought the same thing about you and unbeknownst to them, you had a much better understanding than they thought. Now, with your aging parents, there are things that you may not understand. Being open to learning what those things are and working to understand and show compassion may help both of you have a deeper, better relationship.
Communication is Key
In just about all human interactions, how we communicate with one another is vital to the health of our relationships. This becomes particularly important between aging parents and adult children. The parent/child roles may have changed or maybe in the process of changing; yet at the same time, the parent is still the parent and the child, even though he or she may be a senior citizen, is still the child.
Keeping lines of communication open from the beginning will go a long way in preserving a solid relationship with your aging parent. Without realizing it, you may cause your parent to feel insignificant or disrespected by an innocent statement, question or look. Being empathetic and imagining what it is like to be in your parent’s shoes can help you be more understanding and communicate in a more reassuring manner.
For many of our most senior citizens, respect is one of the things they feel gets easily lost. The general population does not seem to have time or patience for them. Unfortunately, our society has done a great disservice to elderly people by being dismissive of them and adopting the attitude that they are no longer productive and have nothing to offer. This sentiment is not necessarily true, and it can put older people on the defensive, especially when they are feeling the effects of decline health and abilities.
There are many small ways to make sure your parent is feeling respected. Sometimes when a parent is accompanied on a visit to the doctor, the nurses and doctors may speak directly to the caregiver and talk over the patient as if he or she is not in the room. This may be necessary in some cases, but not all. Including your parent in conversations, especially those which pertain to your parent is a small, but important sign of showing respect.
Include your parent in making decisions when appropriate. Some forms of dementia and other disorders may make it difficult for your parent to decide, but you can narrow the choices or use words that imply that he or she has had input in the decision process. In some situations, your parent may not know what he wants, but he can tell you what he doesn’t want.
Accentuate the Positive
In many conversations, elderly people tend to gravitate toward topics dealing with ill health, aches, and pains, people who have died, etc. You can help steer the conversation in a more positive direction by asking open-ended questions or bringing up pleasanter topics.
Caring or Controlling?
Elderly parents can feel like their adult children are trying to control their lives, while at the same time you may feel that you are caring for your parent the best you can. Honest communication comes into play here as you learn to listen to your parent, find out what her concerns are and help her address them.
Parents can seem stubborn on some issues. One major example is turning over the car keys. Being able to drive is a badge of independence that many elderly people wear proudly and are very reluctant to give up. Some come to the realization themselves that it is time to stop driving while others need to be convinced.
Lack of reliable transportation can definitely feel like getting your wings clipped. Fortunately, there are alternatives such as senior shuttles and other transportation for seniors to take them to and from appointments and events. Helping your loved one find the resources to get around even before you take the keys to the car can make the transition easier.
Fears in Growing Older
There are many fears people experience when they reach their golden years. In addition to the loss of independence, there are the fears that accompany declining health. As the baby boomer generation reaches these years, many of them have the fears related to getting Alzheimer’s disease or some form of dementia. Many have seen their parents suffer through life-altering illness and have fears that they may do the same.
Other fears or concerns include:
- Not having enough money
- Death of a spouse
- Needing to move to assisted living or nursing home
- Fear of falling
- Not being able to manage personal care
Your parents may not talk about the things they are concerned about. They may not want to voice their concerns, or they may have some fear about discussing the issues. Being aware that your parents may have some fears related to aging may give you some insight and understanding into why they do or say the things they do. Your willingness to kindly and compassionately help them work through these fears is a gift.
Your patience and understanding are important now as you provide the emotional and psychological support your parents need at this stage of life. They may also need additional help in the home to keep things running smoothly.
About Care Home Care provides excellent in-home services delivered by our dedicated professionals. Certified, well trained and educated to provide people-centered care with integrity and compassion, our in-home care providers offer a variety of services to meet the needs of clients and help them age in place. Contact us to discover how we can help your loved one maintain a high-quality of life at home.