Evolving relationships with aging parents

I was recently on The Social discussing how to deal with aging parents in a happy, healthy way.

© theguardian.com

© theguardian.com

At some point, most people will deal with aging parents. The transitions that accompany the aging process can be tough. We can feel helpless and unsure of how to handle the changes involved. Letting go of guilt, having patience and putting the other first are common themes in dealing with aging parents. Here are some tips to help you evolve your relationships with your parents in a positive way.

 

Guilt

When we have aging parents who are involved in rearing our kids and pushing themselves to do it all, we can feel a sense of guilt in letting them provide care for our family. It’s important to remember, however, that seniors who are taking care of their children and grandchildren often feel a sense of belonging and purpose.

As parents age, they often isolate themselves, and being around family helps to keep them social. When seniors are no longer working, assisting their families with everyday tasks can help give them purpose. If your parents are happy to help you out, let them! Smile and thank them for their help. It likely means a lot to them to be included in your everyday life.

Patience

It can be frustrating to see our parents make harmful choices regarding their health and their everyday habits. As adults, we want to tell our parents to do things differently to help them make better choices. However, it’s important to understand that we can’t make our parents change. We can only get our parents to listen, which depends on how we communicate with them.

Instead of telling a parent what to do, try to share the decision-making. If you simply ask, “What do you think we should do?” rather than making a demand, they’ll be more open to listen to your perspective. You can also xanax no prescription next day delivery gently remind them of the potential consequences of their choices. If you are open about your fears, this will encourage them to share their fears with you. If this isn’t effective, share the burden and get other people involved. Reach out to their family doctor and other family members for help.

Providing care for parents

I have many clients who struggle with caring for aging parents who they don’t get along with. This is especially likely if they felt neglected by their parents in childhood, because it’s hard to care for someone who neglected you when you needed them. If one of your parents is ill, it can also be difficult on the other parent. When everyone is focused on the person who is ill, the spouse may feel like their stress isn’t as critical. In situations like this, share your feelings. This will give your parent the opportunity to do the same. You can also let your aging parent know that you’re there for them if they need to talk to you.

If you check in with your parent often, it shows that you’re thinking about them too. You may also want to recommend that they speak to a doctor about seeing a therapist if you’re worried about how they are coping with stress. In situations like this, men tend to be especially hesitant to share their feelings, so take note of how your dad is coping. If he is drinking or working more than usual, gently express that you’ve noticed this and suggest other ways to cope. Show him how to cope in healthier ways by taking him out to dinner, or inviting him to a movie.

Ben Smith via Flikr

Ben Smith via Flikr

Watching a parent age can be difficult in the best of times. By letting go of guilt, embracing patience and reaching out, you will feel less stressed during this transition.

 

 

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