Whether your aging parents live with you, or you live near each other, it’s no secret that our lives change drastically as we get older. The transition from your middle-aged years to your senior years can be a difficult one, because this phase of life is often accompanied by changes in independence, changes in mobility and ability, and a new set of health concerns.
We always recommend showing empathy and compassion to your aging parents, even in those moments when they frustrate you. Getting older isn’t easy, and as their child they will undoubtedly lean on you more and more as they age. Here are some of the most common things people say to their aging parents that we recommend you avoid, including our advice on how to approach the situation in a kinder way.
“You Always Tell Me the Same Story!”
We’re all guilty of repeating our favorite stories every once in a while, and sometimes older adults forget that they’ve already shared something. But when you say “You’ve already told me this,” what your parent hears is that you don’t care enough to listen to them. It may be one of their favorite memories or they might have forgotten that they’ve shared it with you before. Either way, dismissing them and shutting them down is not the recommended response.
Instead, ask them a few leading questions in an attempt to get them to share a new memory with you. Stick to positive questions and happy memories, and tell your parent that you appreciate them sharing something new with you. You might even want to record these memories so you’ll have these special moments to look back on forever.
“You Shouldn’t Live Alone Anymore.”
Seniors are extremely wary of losing their independence. Unfortunately the cliches and fears about assisted living communities are still very prevalent, and aging parents are known to be stubborn when it comes time to discuss alternative living arrangements. When you say “You shouldn’t live alone anymore”, what your parent hears is that they’re about to lose their independence. It’s no wonder that senior adults protest these conversations.
Rather than tell them you don’t want them to live alone anymore, we recommend framing the conversation as: “I’m concerned something might happen to you, or you might need help when I’m not around.” If your parent isn’t interested in visiting a modern, activie assisted living community, remember that assisted living is not the only choice. You and your parents can work together to create a support network of people who can regularly check in on your parents, or you may want to invest in a certified home health aide to come to their home several days a week. Security alert systems are also popular with older adults who live alone, but discuss all the options with your parents and see how they feel.
“You’re Too Old to Drive.”
Losing the ability to drive is a big part of losing independence, especially if your parents don’t have access to public transportation. When adult children try to have this conversation with their aging parents, they’re often met with protests, and their parents will insist that they are perfectly fine to drive. However, the reality is that driving can be dangerous for seniors with certain mobility restrictions, certain health conditions, or who are on certain medications.
We recommend seeking advice from your parents’ physician, because hearing it from a professional can often have a different effect than hearing it from your child. Doctors and physical therapists are prepared to have this conversation and can help your aging parents understand the serious consequences of driving when they no longer should.
If you have any questions about how to best help your aging parents, or if you’d like more information about our senior living communities in NJ, please contact our team at UMC today: https://umcommunities.org
This blog was originally published at https://umcommunities.org/blog/aging-parents/