One of the things I think we don’t prepare for very well (at least in America), is our aging parents and how we deal with that.
Kind of like parenting, you aren’t given an instruction manual but even worse, it’s not really talked about. Dealing with aging parents can be difficult.
Whether it’s physical, financial, or emotional issues, we just aren’t prepared for these changes.
So in this episode, I thought we would cover some of the things that you may experience as your parents get older. I think it’s important to have some awareness that you may face some of these issues.
My hope is that you will realize you are not alone and they are actually quite common. Then we’ll get into some things you can do to make the situation less difficult for you and them.
Let’s first go over some things you might experience as your parents are aging:
#1 – You may feel angry or scared – It’s not easy to deal with seeing them physically change, roles changing, and dealing with the different relationship dynamic. They may not be able to do the same things as they used to and and we can sometimes get upset at that.
#2 – There could be financial stress – Depending if they have done their own financial planning, insurance, or long term care, you may want to seek the advice of a professional here. There are experts who specialize in helping older people with finances. You want to make sure it’s not going to be a financial burden on you as they age.
#3 – They may be in denial – They may not want to admit that they need help or that they are getting older. It’s often hard to admit you can’t do things you once did.
#4 – Understand they are just going to forget things – Even if they aren’t diagnosed with dementia or a disease, our memories are effected by age. You may find yourself repeating things over and over. Try your best to be patient with them.
#5 – You may feel guilty– This usually has to do with two things (how much time you spend and how you treat them). If you live far away this may especially ring true.
You might feel guilty for not spending enough time with them. You may also get upset or frustrated with them for some reason and then will feel guilty about that. But here’s the thing, if you feel guilty, you probably are.
So what can you do to make the situation a little less difficult on yourself and them? Here are some tips:
#1 – Takes things slow – You must have patience and know that things are going to take you a lot longer than you planned. They may move pretty slow or talk pretty slow. You need to be considerate of that.
#2 – Have a plan – Do they have medical directives? Has any estate planning or wills been done? It’s best to do these earlier rather than later. It may be uncomfortable to talk about these things but it’s going to save a lot of hassle.
#3 – Be empathetic that change is hard – Whether they need to downsize where they live or go into a home or senior center, change is not easy. Instead of trying to convince them that the new place is so much better and fun, be empathetic to them that you understand it is a difficult transition.
#4 – Ask for help – Don’t try to do everything yourself. Call on family members, friends, and even caregivers to assist when they can. If someone needs to be hired or they need more permanent assistance and financially that is an option, it could be worth considering.
#5 – Help them Be Social – Include them in social activities. Whether it’s for one of your child’s events or just going to hangout. Let them know you would like for them to be present and assist them in participating.
#6 – Focus on the present – Try to focus on the moments that you have and enjoy the time you are able to spend with them. Don’t spend your time worrying about what is going to happen. While it’s easier said than done, you want to focus on the present moment