Many of us have heard, or have even said things like, “I have noticed Mom slipping a bit,” “Dad seems to need help with his checkbook,” or “Dad isn’t real comfortable driving at night anymore.” These are all things that most of us have experienced either directly or indirectly. As our parents’ age, they slip in many areas for one reason or another. Sometimes, we feel hesitant to be “parents” to them. It is an awkward situation and one that is not really easy to deal with.
As they get older, parents depend on us more and more for their daily lives. Where once they took care of us, now we must take care of them. There are several reasons why this turn of events is so difficult to handle.
- Many times the parent that needs the help will not acknowledge the fact that they need it. Sometimes they resent being “treated like a child.” They don’t see what we see and what we observe in them.
- Sometimes unresolved issues from years before can cloud the process. Parents can sometimes look at kids trying to care for them as kids trying to control their lives. And if there is an outstanding issue that was never resolved, this can make the parent very defensive.
- It is very hard sometimes to know when to step into your parent’s lives and help them. You may be hesitant for obvious reasons. Being too hesitant can cause safety and health problems for the parent. This is why it is really important that you get their things like toilet surrounds for elderly to make their lives more convenient and comfortable.
But by the same token, if you step in too quickly it can cause hard feelings and misunderstandings to occur.
- If the children live too far away from the parents this is an obvious problem. The children don’t have direct access to their parents and cannot be of direct help to them. This can cause guilt feelings with the child. It can also cause the parent to feel that the child is not around enough to be of any help to them at all. When the parent really needs help, no one is there to provide any.
There are many ways that children can take steps to help a parent and make it a more successful transition. If you do nothing then the parent may be at risk. If you try and identify the needs of the parent and where the problems exist, then taking the appropriate steps can help to give the children more confidence in what they are doing. If you also sit down with the parent and discuss the situation, the parent may be more open to the help and may better understand what is being done for them. Some of the things you can look at that will make this situation easier to handle are listed below.
- Don’t look at it as though you are being a parent to your parent. You may use some of the same techniques that they used with you or that you used with your children, but the relationship is totally different. Treat your parents with respect and as adults. The situation is different than when they were parenting you.
- Discuss with the parent those things that they are still able to do well and without assistance. Also, discuss those things that the parent now needs help with. Try to focus on activities that the parent enjoys and likes to do. In that way, the more positive side is being emphasized.
- Try to resolve any back issues that may be standing in the way of your successful aid. Discuss these things with the parent and try to come to some resolution. If you need counseling, then go that route, but get all of the baggage out of the way.
- Try to access what the needs of your parents are. Look at what outside help you may need in addition to your own personal help. If you are not sure how to approach this, then speak to a geriatric care manager or social worker.
- If you live too far away to be of any help to your parent, then enlist the aid of a home care agency. They can provide the right help to the parent and make you feel more relaxed in the process. There are many types of these agencies. They can range from home health agencies to companion care services. You will want to choose the one that best fits your circumstances.
Don’t take chances. If you even suspect that your parent is in need of help, then follow through with that help. If you find out later that you jumped to conclusions, then no problem. But if you left something is undone that caused an even larger problem, going back is not an option.