According to Pew Research Center, almost a quarter of Americans aged 45 – 64 cares for an aging relative.
Are you caring for aging parents? It can be a tricky situation to navigate. For so many years, your parents took care of you, now the tables have turned.
When dealing with aging parents, it’s important to be mindful of their perspectives. Read on to find out more about how to care for aging parents in a way that takes everyone’s needs into account.
Your Aging Parents
It can be difficult when you start to notice the signs that your parents are aging. Perhaps they’re moving more slowly. Their memory may be beginning to wane.
The house that used to be immaculate is now a little messy.
Your instinct may be to step in and try to take over. Before you do, think about how your actions may be received.
Your parents want to be treated like adults. They will not take it kindly if you start trying to take over. They’ve had autonomy for a very long time, and giving that up is hard.
Accepting help means getting used to new routines and new ways of dealing with daily living. Have a discussion with your parents about how things are going. Are there some tasks that have become harder to do? Are there tasks they still love to do?
Once you know where your parents stand, you can tailor the help you give. If they find grocery shopping to be too exhausting, go ahead and let them make a list for you to take to the store. If they are still enjoying walking out to get the mail, leave the letters in the box.
Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Many a misunderstanding has happened because of miscommunication. It’s important to talk with your parents about your concerns and allow them, in turn, to share theirs.
Don’t make the conversation an event. Everyone should be relaxed and ready to do some active listening. No judgement should be made—on either side.
If there’s a specific topic you want to discuss, such as what level of care your parents should have, have some options to present. Be prepared to hear what your parents think of these options. Come to a decision that works for everyone.
Your parents may be willing to consider different types of senior communities, or they may prefer to stay in their house and receive in-home care.
Keeping an open mind and listening to each other can preserve a relationship you and your parents hold dear.
Beware of Assessment
No one likes to be judged, your parents included.
It can be stressful to have someone assess how you’re managing your home. Mentioning the mess in the kitchen or the pile of laundry in the closet can make your parents feel self-conscious. They may not be quite ready to admit they need help.
Instead of expressing all your concerns in a way that may leave your parents feeling unhappy, take a silent look around. Check the fridge and note the state of the living room.
If there’s something that matters, bring it up. Have a calm conversation about what you’ve noticed and ask if you can help.
What’s Best For Everyone
Your aging parents may need you more and more as time goes by. Take the time to truly listen to them. Respectfully share your thoughts. Keeping everyone in the loop will make any changes seem like a breeze.
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