Dealing with aging seniors can be challenging, but it is important not to vent that frustration by using a poor choice of words and a confrontational tone. It is likely that your aging parents are aware of their failing memory, their diminishing physical abilities and their reliance on caregivers. Addressing seniors in an aggressive tone comes across as disrespectful and can create a vicious cycle of annoyance, anger and guilt in you, the caregiver.
Put Yourself in Their Shoes
Try to understand what it must be like to grow old and experience limited mobility, diminishing memory, the inevitable loneliness of losing friends and relatives, and difficulty in handling routine chores. Even if your parents know you are trying to help, they may resent the fact that they need the help at all and fear losing control over their own lives.
Choose Your Battles
There is probably a lot you would like to say to your aging parent about finances, driving, eating habits…the list goes on and on. Pick the most important issues, especially if they are safety problems, and address those first in a calm way.
Put on Your Listening Ears
Give your loved one the courtesy of really listening to what they have to say. Do not feel that you have to speak if there is a pause in the conversation. Let them take their time and bring up subjects of importance to them, and consider what they are really trying to communicate to you.
Keep Conversation Focused
Diminished hearing and slower processing of information can make it difficult for seniors to follow a rushed, high-pitched conversation. Stick to one thought at a time, speak clearly and calmly and use short, direct sentences. If you are female, try to lower the tone of your voice, as higher pitches are often hard for seniors to hear.
Maintain an Open Mind
Your parents are entitled to their opinion, although you may not always agree. Unless it’s a safety or health issue, try to accommodate their wishes even if you feel there is a better way to handle things. Some seniors feel entitled to bend the rules a little bit at their age, so while you may be into fitness to a fault, make an effort to ignore that second tub of ice cream in the freezer.
Think About the Surroundings
If you have an important topic to discuss, consider the environment for the conversation. Choose a quiet spot without distracting noise, like a quiet restaurant, or go for a leisurely walk. You might find it helpful to drop hints in the weeks leading up to the conversation so the topic doesn’t come as a complete surprise, leaving the senior feeling blindsided.
Laugh a Lot
Instead of making the situation worse by saying things like “I told you that a thousand times” or “That has nothing to do with what we’re talking about,” try to talk about humorous situations, both present and past. Relate a funny anecdote about a young grandchild, or bring up a situation from years ago that caused amusement in the family. Sharing a laugh can lay the foundation for a more serious conversation in the future by cementing the bond you have with your parent and letting them know that you are on their side.
Getting the Caregiving Support You Need
A reputable home health care agency can provide a trained in-home caregiver to help out with meals, bathing and transportation and allow your loved ones to remain in their own home. Home Helpers of South Shore is owned and operated by a compassionate health professional with a strong understanding of the needs of aging seniors. Contact Home Helpers to provide an experienced home health care worker who can make recommendations for medical equipment that can help your aging parent.
Please fill out the form on the left and we will get in touch with you about setting up in-home health care or call us at 781-585-1244 to determine the plan that is right for you.
We serve the following communities:
Abington , Braintree , Brockton , Buzzards Bay , Carver , Cohasset, Dighton , Duxbury , Falmouth , Halifax , Hanson , Hingham , Holbrook , Hull , Humarock , Kingston , Lakeville , Marshfield , Mashpee , Middleboro , Norwell , Pembroke , Plymouth , Plympton , Quincy , Randolph , Rockland , Sandwich , Scituate , Taunton , Wareham , Weymouth , Whitman