As your parent’s age, their outlook on life and their children evolves constantly. Let us look at how to better understand your aging parents and help them enjoy the golden years of their life.
As your parents’ age, their outlook towards life, their daily struggles, and their view of their children’s role in their lives change a lot. You may not know what they are going through unless you communicate with them and spend time with them.
You may even have some sadness, fear, and grief as you see changes in your parents as they become weaker physically and mentally. Aging is something that a person cannot understand until and unless it happens.
But by communicating and talking to your parents and looking at their life experiences, you will understand their behaviors and help them live a better life. Sometimes your parents will not discuss their issues or find it comfortable sharing them with you.
You might have to have difficult conversations with them like old age care arrangements, home modifications for physical safety, lack of mental understanding, etc. Having these conversations can be very hard until you understand their fears and thought processes and modify your behavior accordingly. In this article, let us look in detail at how to understand your aging parents:
- Common Fears of aging parents
- How can you help your aging parents?
- Respecting Aging parents while caregiving.
- Aging parents and their helicopter children
Understand Parents Challenges
It is very important to understand your parents as they age and what keeps them awake at night. You may notice your parents may not share their problems or have some fear. Knowing what they may be fear will help cope with things and help the aging parents live a better life.
Aging is a part of life, and as people grow older, they tend to lose muscle strength. They may require help to do their daily tasks, including grocery shopping, making doctor’s appointments, and even housework. Let us look at parents’ challenges and fears as they age.
One of the most common fears aging parents deals with is loneliness. Studies have shown that one in every four seniors feels alone and socially isolated.
They may feel left out or alone when they lose their friends or loved ones, even making them feel depressed. You may not have anyone to talk to or spend time with. If they stay alone, you should always talk to them regularly and visit them often.
92% of seniors above 65 have at least one chronic disease, and 77% have two or more. As people age, their body starts deteriorating. They may find few changes in their body that might not be there before. Their bones will start shrinking in size and density and become weak as they age.
Their muscles will become weak and lose flexibility, thus affecting their overall coordination and stability. Encouraging your parents to plan a healthy diet and lifestyle will help them lead a healthy and longer life.
Not Feeling Safe
Older adults feel unsafe on a wide variety of issues. As your parents age, they may feel unsafe in their own homes. This may be because of crime, or it may also stem from a feeling of insecurity and helplessness.
You may need to take specific steps and ensure their safety. For this, you can set up an alarm system and do some modifications at home, like reducing the slippery tiles in the bathroom with grab bars.
You can even get a panic alarm button, and they can wear this and ask for help anytime they need it.
Another reason for them eating alone is when the person with whom they have spent their lives is gone, there may not have anyone to cook for them, and they may find it challenging to eat healthily. Most of the time, they will be sad and in grief.
Nearly 5mn American older adults live in poverty. After the age of 60, your parents retire. And after retirement, they need to rely on their pension or savings.
They may need some financial help from their children, and they may be stressed out over money and find it challenging to manage their funds.
You can help out your parents, seek some help from a financial advisor, and find out the best ways to manage their funds according to their needs and lifestyle.
Nearly 40% of older adults have some or the other age-related memory problem. Some aging parents may have a fear of losing their memory. They may find it difficult to remember certain things they used to love, and they may sometimes feel anxious as well.
You can help your parents by talking about your childhood, showing old pictures, and discussing the places you visited together.
Loss Of Independence
After a certain age, it might be difficult for your parents to do their work or everyday tasks as they used to. This may fear them and make them worried about not doing anything independently. You may need to help out your parents when in need or look for a caregiving assistant if you cannot help them up.
Finding It Difficult To Drive
Your aging parents may fear losing independence and maybe finding it difficult to drive. They may not be able to go wherever they want to. Do you remember the freedom of driving your car and going wherever you want to? They may be fearing losing this freedom. You need to look at the options and community groups and make your parents busy.
Caring For An Aging Parent
Every child would want to take care of their aging parents and be there for them when they need them. No matter how busy you are, you need to talk out time for your parents and look up to the issues they may be facing.
Sometimes you may find it challenging to deal with the behavior of your aging parents. As they have a fear of getting older, they may not be able to express their feelings. Let us look at certain tips on what you can do to improve your and your parents’ lives.
Try Understanding Your Parents
You need to take time for your parents and talk to them. Try understanding their feelings and what is stressing them up. When you know the issues they are facing, you will help your parents cope with the issues and help them adapt to the changes and lifestyle.
Your parents will have different life experiences, and they will have different opinions and perspectives towards life, and you need to respect and understand them.
Listen And Empathize Their Feelings
When your parents get old, they may need someone to be there for them and take care of them. They may want to receive respect and affection from their children.
Try looking at life from their perspective and listen to their feelings. When you communicate and listen to your parents’ feelings, you will understand and support them better.
Talk To Them
Even if you don’t stay with your parents, you can talk to them on the phone. You can take some time out from work and ask your parents about their well-being and how they spend their day.
Know if they face any problems and find them challenging to deal with. Make them feel you are there for them and show your love and concern.
Respecting Aging Parents While Caregiving
Just because you know better and are capable of doing anything doesn’t mean you can treat your parents as you want and not respect them.
You need to look at life from their side and treat them with respect and care. Try to accept them for who they are and how their behavior changes.
Some people may find it challenging to take care of their aging parents. This may be because your aging parents may be a bit reluctant to accept the changes. When you talk to your parents, you may find some issues that might not be there before.
You need to understand them and take care of them. At the same time, you need to continue your work and take care of your own family.
No matter how your parents’ behavior changes as they age, you need to treat them with respect and dignity.
Aging Parents And Their Helicopter Children
We all have seen helicopter parents, especially when their child moves to college. They may be hovering over their child too much, and they may feel that their child is not safe and healthy without their interference.
But you will see your parents’ age, and the role gets reversed. The adult child will want to keep their aging parents safe and healthy.
Some people may find it challenging to take care of their aging parents physically, financially, and emotionally. To help them cope up with the issue, they may be keeping a close watch on them.
Like looking at their medications, what they eat, and where they are going, taking too much control may cause more problems. Let us look at ways to avoid interfering in the parents’ lives.
Let Them Take Their Own Decisions
When your parents are healthy and active, you should let them decide. Some parents may have dementia and find difficulty in making any choice. Listen to what they find suitable and inform them of the rewards and risks of their decisions.
Sometimes older parents may resist adapting to new technology and tools at home, from a security alarm system to advanced smoke alarms designed to help you keep safe and in place. You need to explain to your parents the benefits of technology and provide them with freedom.
Let Them Help Themselves
One of the great ways to not interfere in your aging parent’s life is to make every tool and necessary thing available for them to live a better life. Let them attend some aging programs which will guide them about all the changes they will go through as they age. It will cover relationships, health, finance, personal growth, and others.
Forgiveness When Parent Has Wronged You
A child will always love their parents. The relationship between a child and a parent is the most loving and protecting one experiences in his life.
But as they grow older, they might start judging them or get hurt if they did something wrong. Sometimes this wound goes beyond adolescence to adulthood.
A child may be hurt in many ways, leading to lifelong anger against their parents. This can be due to:
- Physical or mental abuse.
- If the parent fails to protect their kids from any abuse.
- Their parents may emotionally neglect them.
- If the parents were too controlling.
- Lack of support for a career or lifestyle choice.
Any resentment or childhood blame can lead to emotional pain and hurt adult relationships and overall well-being. However, a child’s parent may not be doing anything intentionally or hurting them. It is essential to forgive your parents if they wronged you anytime, and it is the first step towards self-acceptance and maturity.
Sometimes Parents Also Get Hurt
Our parents have lived their lives and may even have faced some difficulties and struggles at some point in time. We may not know what they have gone through. But you can help them overcome their pains and sorrows.
Try Building Up Trust
Sometimes you may not trust your parents, and you may even find it difficult to rebuild trust, and it will take time. Start by being honest to each other even if some things hurt.
Not Everyone Is Perfect
Everyone will have some of the other flaws and will not be perfect. So why can anyone expect their parents to be perfect and make no mistakes?
Yes, people make mistakes, and we cannot hold onto anger or grudges forever. Instead of talking to your parents and communicating with them, your feelings will make things better.
Forgiving your parents for anything may seem strange, but the act of forgiveness is one of the best things to do.
Canada Spends Billions On Aging Parents
In Canada, caring for aging parents costs around $33 billion a year. The cost involved is staggering. Let us look at why it takes so much money to take care of aging parents.
People have a perception that in Canada, the healthcare facility is free. But the truth is the government pays only 70% of the total cost. The rest of the caregivers have to pay out of their pockets.
You may not know how much you need to spend on healthcare. After the age of 65, the aging parents may have some healthcare problems which will involve medical costs. Caregivers need to spend a certain amount depending on the cost and care involved.
Some assistive devices are costly, such as visual aids, hearing aids, and communication aids. The government will cover a certain percentage but the remaining amount the caregiver needs to pay. If your aging parents need multiple assistive devices, it will cost more.
Taking Out Time From Work
Sometimes caregivers may need to take time from work and assist their aging parents. Sometimes they may arrive late or need to leave early from the office.
Nearly 1 in 4 people above the age of 45 in Canada are family caregivers to their parents. These people spend nearly 10 hours a week on caregiving activities, which might come out of work hours.
After using all the vacation and sick leaves, the leave they take is all unpaid. Loss of income will make it more challenging to deal with the additional medical expenses of their aging parents. Not only this, they may even lose promotions or new job opportunities due to caregiving responsibility.
Hiring Caregiver Assistant
Some parents may need some professional assistance. As they age, they may need help for personal care like getting dressed or bathing or any other housework.
One good thing about hiring a professional caregiving assistant is you may not have to take out time out of work or do any home modifications.
We all love our parents no matter how far they stay. They will always be there in our minds. Even if they don’t stay with you, you will think about what they ate, if they are safe or have any issues. You will always want to do the best for your aging parents.
Always try spending time with your parents and communicate with them on issues to better understand them. If you find that your parents struggle to do housework, help them up and let them relax.
I hope you find the article helpful. If you have any suggestions on how to understand aging parents better, do share your thoughts below.