How to Deal with Aging Parents
Have a plan in place for your aging parents.
The aging process happens gradually, but the level of care aging parents need can change in a split second. While it’s nice to have a plan in place when the time comes, the best plan is to always be prepared. Having a solid plan in place for your aging parents allows you to provide care for them while also maintaining all of the responsibilities you had before their care needs to be increased. Contact a care management company to discuss your options in advance, a critical step to ensuring your job, other family, friends, and previous commitments continue to get the full attention they deserve.
Aging parents might be more difficult on you than them.
Your parents took care of you for your entire life, now it’s time to return the favor! Whether you choose a caregiving service or decide to do the caretaking yourself, there are things you need to be prepared for. It is important to keep in mind that their demeanor may change and this isn’t anyone’s fault. Below are a few things that you shouldn’t be shocked if you start to notice.
Changes in demeanor in aging parents
- Manipulation – They may manipulate you into thinking more care means more love, and the opposite can be true as well.
- Independence – They may see their need for help as a weakness and be reluctant to even ask for help.
- Needy – They may wish that you drop everything to be at their beck and call.
- Abuse – They may display abuse verbally, physically, or even both.
- Cognitive Impairment – They may suffer from dementia or other forms of cognitive impairment which can lead to difficulty engaging with you as they once had.
Best approaches when starting out helping an aging parent.
You’ll soon notice that aging parents need help with a lot of tasks that may have once seemed easy to them. Oftentimes tasks like the preparation of meals, monitoring their health, and managing their medications are critical to their overall health and wellness. The key to this process is taking control while leaving your aging parents still feeling like they have their independence.
The ultimate recipe for successful support is to listen to their needs and make them a part of the process. Don’t be surprised if you meet resistance early on in this transition. Meet resistance with an offering of a partnership, make them feel as though you’re team working on the best solutions for them.
How to maintain a good relationship with aging parents.
Changes with your aging parents are often subtle – need help with housework, need help getting to and from places. As time progresses though, you’re more likely to see this process speed up. Your relationship with your parents is definitely going to change, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still have a good one. Differentiating between the caregiver and child relationship is difficult, but these great tips should help with the process.
Ways to maintain relationships with aging parents
- Respect their space, and ask them to do the same for you
- Don’t do too much, doing just what is needed allows them to remain independent
- Help them, but allow them to remain as independent as possible
- Try to see things from their perspective
- Prioritize the things that make them happiest and do them first
- Guide them, but allow them to feel as though they’re making decisions on their own
- Be honest and respectful with them
- Get homecare help for them if you can’t do it all (you can’t!)
Final thoughts on dealing with your aging parents.
As with any venture in life, start with a plan. Having ideas and systems in place leading up to the time when your parents need more help is critical to not overwhelming yourself early on. Remember not to be surprised if their demeanor or behavior begins to change. Keep them involved in the process, consider yourselves a team, and define your trust circle of family members who will be there for support. If financial concerns arise, talk to your parents about money. If a professional caregiver is not for you, your not out of luck, you can do this.
Bailey, J 2018 November 6, Managing a healthy caregiving relationship with your aging parents, Mary & Martha, accessed 9 January 2023, <https://www.marthaandmary.org/articles/managing-a-healthy-caregiving-relationship-with-your-aging-parent>
Bursack, C (N.D.), Balancing Elder Care With Other Relationships, AgingCare website, accessed 9 January 2023, <https://www.agingcare.com/articles/balancing-elder-care-with-other-relationships-133603.htm>
Knee, M 2022 November 8, Improving Your Relationship with Aging Parents – Parenting Your Parent is Hard – Being a Caregiver More So, LCT News website, accessed 9 January 2023, <https://www.ltcnews.com/articles/improving-your-relationship-with-aging-parents>