It can be very difficult to cope with aging parents. They may seem to be struggling with everyday tasks that they never used to. The desire to step in and help them can be overwhelming.
But it can be insulting to your parent. It can make them feel useless and they can easily lose their self-confidence. So where do we draw the line? You want to help them but let them remain independent.
How to Help Aging Parents
When our roles in the family dynamic change and we become the caregivers, there are bound to be mistakes. But here are a few tips to make the transition easier.
Maintaining open communication is vital. That means learning how to listen and understand what they really want. It also means knowing when to talk and when to listen.
Asking how they are without probing and harassing them is important. They are family and they deserve to be respected and treated kindly. This is where your listening skills will come into play.
Schedule a day in the week when they will be expecting you. Just dropping in can be irritating for them if you appear to be checking up on them. Perhaps set up a lunch date where you can come by.
Call beforehand and ask if you can bring anything. That way, you can gently remind them that you are coming by without asking if they remember. Bring a few items that they may need and make it seem like you were thinking of them.
If they seem to be struggling with something, make a gentle suggestion offering other options to what they are trying. Never make demons on them, as it is demeaning.
Ordering someone to do something can make them feel bad and they may just do the opposite out of spite. Try saying that this is how you do it and that it is easier for you, do they want to try that, as well?
Give Them Options
Make it seem like they have a choice in the matter, even if they don’t. But don’t give them too many as it makes it more difficult to decide. Offer one or the other, even if each option is the same.
Allowing too many options can just be confusing. They may end up flustered and not make any choices at all. It is important that they feel like they are in charge and have the freedom to decide.
Let Them Ask for Help
Make sure that the help or assistance is wanted. It can be something simple like a run to the grocery store or help with the housework. You can easily do these tasks during your weekly visit.
Offer your assistance but don’t force it on them. Never just assume they need help, even with the smallest of tasks. If you notice that they are low or out of certain supplies, you can offer to pick them up something.
Set Healthy Boundaries
As much as you may want to help, there may be a time when you need help. Don’t be afraid to say no. You can let them maintain their independence by hiring a professional caregiver or getting them an emergency alert system, for your peace of mind and theirs.
You need to make time for yourself and your needs, as well. Don’t force yourself on them when they don’t want it and don’t let them take advantage of you, either. It’s important to find the right balance for everyone.