Growing up, your parents were the heroes of your childhood. They had an answer to every question. They also knew how to help you. And more importantly, they were strong when you were too young to defend yourself.
But age, unfortunately, happens to the best of us too. There comes a time when the roles are reversed. You’re not a child anymore. And, while your parents have not gone back in time, they may not be the superhero material they used to be. With age, the body can grow weaker, the mind becomes forgetful, and sometimes your parents have to turn to you for guidance.
First of all, let’s clear things out. Regardless of your parents’ health, growing older is unavoidable. As a consequence, you need to be mentally ready to deal with the potential loss of their independence. Not all elderly adults require support all the time, but it’s one of the possible outcomes of old age. You can’t afford to ignore this option. However, even if your parents can’t remain independent, you need to be careful about how this might influence your relationship together. Indeed, you have to accept that looking after senior relatives isn’t the same thing as becoming your parents’ parent. You need to establish a set of rules for yourself to follow if you are to preserve your bond with your parents.
#1. You can’t keep your cool
When you’re looking after someone else’s health, it’s fair to say that you will stress as you try to deal with issues. Every parent can relate to stressful health conditions when they have a young child. From a runny nose to high fever, children have a weak immune system during the first years of their life – thankfully, getting sick is part of the immune system development process, which means that in good time they’ll have the natural defenses they need. Seniors are very much similar to young children in the sense that their immune system is also weak – unfortunately, unlike children, they are unlikely to develop further natural defenses over time. As a result, your parents are likely to catch viral diseases and infections, which can be stressful to handle for you. You need, however, to distance yourself from the events to manage your mind effectively. Getting stressed out is not going to help your parents to get better. More importantly, it puts you under a high amount of pressure, which affects both your mood and your health. Instead, be pragmatic and keep emergency contacts on your phone – such as your parents’ doctor, your health insurance, etc.
#2. Don’t decide for them on big things
It might be tempting to reduce your stress levels by taking big decisions on behalf of your parents. Indeed, most adults admit that they argue a lot with their aging parents – see next paragraph about it. If this is your case, you might be tempted to leave them entirely out of the decision process. However, by refusing them a chance to review the fact and present their opinions, you are treating them like young children. One of the worst things you can do to your parents is to decide to move them to a retirement home without giving them the chance to explore options and visit different places. Nursing homes need to not only provide a safe environment but also an enjoyable and exciting lifestyle for your parents, which is why you need to look together for health, dieting, and entertainment options such as at McKnight Place. Deciding together means that your parents can prepare to move out of their home at their pace, while you can also find the health facilities they need. If you impose a decision on them, they’re likely to react negatively to their new lifestyle.
#3. You argue a lot
Everybody disagrees on some things. However, when you’re dealing with your aging parents, your disagreements can turn into conflicts. Indeed, many adult women fight with their parents because in ways they don’t with anybody else. The reason is simple; our parents can involuntarily make us feel like children again – which is especially frustrating when you’re trying to look after them. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to not to revert to your teenage self when you’re arguing with your parents. But you need to remember that you have to draw a line between helping them and prying into their privacy. Respecting each other’s opinion can help you to move forward.
#4. You are tempted to punish them
You know you’re the reasonable one. But you can’t force your parents into doing something they don’t want to. Confused seniors, for instance, can reject their medications. As their direct relative, you are going to feel frustrated but don’t revert to the old parental blackmail formula. Threatening not to visit them if they don’t do this or that is not going to work. Be patient and work with a specialist to find the best approach.
#5. You take over their home life
Many adults try to support their aging parents’ independent living for as long as possible. It’s not uncommon to find yourself organizing their home and lifestyle in such a way that you can easily manage it for them. However, you need to listen to their emotional needs as much as their physical and health requirements. For instance, if you have to consider renovating their bathroom to introduce a safe showering option, you should try to make it fit in their current home decor. If you’re going to plan their shopping, you should make sure there is always a little treat too. Ultimately, if your mother loves chocolate, for instance, you can keep a small bar of dark chocolate in her grocery shopping. It’s a matter of balancing their emotional health as much as the rest.
#6. You plan holidays together
You want to keep an eye on your parents while you’re on vacation, so, of course, you book a family holiday for everyone. But this may not be the best option. Your parents are not children, and they might feel just as powerless as their grandchildren when you organize everything for them.
Accepting that your parents need support in old age is difficult. But you need to approach the situation respectfully and with great care, if you are to preserve your relationship.
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