When I wrote the book, Raising and Aging Parent, in 2019, I think I may have been ahead of my time because it seems more and more today, I’m confronted with the challenges discussed in that book.
The challenges of caretaking or supporting aging parents can be daunting. The reality is, in their later years, they’re faced with serious issues that we may or may not be taking into consideration or equipped to handle. Threats to our parents’ health and well-being, mobility, independence, and identity are all very real. Even the strongest and healthiest among them need our love, support, and understanding. They may also require our help when making painfully difficult medical and financial decisions. Doing so requires a whole new level of trust, empathy, involvement, and vigilance on our parts, as well as the emotional and spiritual strength to come to terms with how they’re changing.
What Your Aging Parents Want You to Know
- We Still Have Minds of Our Own.
Nobody, young or old, wants to be bossed around and/or dismissed because of their age. Aging parents realize that there are some things they now need our help with—but they want us to know how important it is for us to ask (rather than tell) them what to do, think, or believe.
- Speak to Us with Love and Respect.
Tone is everything. Aging parents realize that our generation is moving at the speed of light to get everything done—but they want us to speak to (rather than at) them, using words and a tone of voice that conveys respect and affection, rather than impatience and frustration.
- We Are Still Your Parents.
Even though they’re older and may be a step slower, our parents are forever our parents. Treating them like (helpless) children can be insensitive and demeaning. We may be taking over greater control for their care and affairs, but we need to occasionally let go, ask for their help/advice, and allow them to enjoy being parents.
- Sometimes, We Still Want to Be in Charge.
Decisions are best made (and implemented) when they’re made in concert with your aging parents. Be a patient communicator when it comes to talking through and deliberating about important decisions.
- You May Be Smarter in Today’s World, but We Still Know More about Some Things.
Aging parents want us to tap into the wealth of relevant knowledge they’ve gained from years of experience. Listen, and validate their contributions.
- We May Not Always Show It, but We Love and Appreciate You.
Some parents, kids, families, and cultures are more demonstrative than others when it comes to showing love and affection. Aging parents want us to look past their occasional grumpiness and know the depth of their love and gratitude for all the ways we’re trying to make their lives better, richer, and more comfortable.
Excerpted from the book, Raising an Aging Parent, by Dr. Ken Druck, available here.