Most people won’t want to think about what it will mean for them when their parents get older, but it happens to us all. You don’t need to ruminate over worse case scenarios and give yourself anxiety, but there are some key things you must remember as your parents get older to make life more pleasant for everyone. It can be tough to watch them age, but remember the 10 important things below and you’ll have peace of mind:
- Chat With Them About The Important Stuff
Make sure you’ve had a chat with your parents about the important stuff. They might not want to talk about it, but the sooner it’s out the way, the better. You should discuss things like money, healthcare, and even where they want to live if they are no longer able to live at home. You might want to start looking at care homes, in home care services, or even hospice care services depending on your parents needs. Make sure you know everything there is to know should something happen and leave them unable to let you know or make decisions.
- You Can Still Make Memories With Them
Just because your parents are ageing doesn’t mean you can’t make memories. Make plans with them. Go on shopping trips, to the theatre, or even just go and sit in the park. Live in the moment and avoid using your phone unless you’re taking a picture or video.
Being social is especially important for elderly people who may otherwise feel isolated and alone. This is a common problem among senior citizens. Plan as much with them as possible, and if you can’t see them, consider teaching them how to use Skype or Facetime so you can have a quick catch up from home. You could also help them to make new friends by taking them to evening classes, workshops, and coffee and cake afternoons.
- You Can Encourage Them To Stay Healthy
Encouraging your parents to stay healthy if this isn’t already something they do is important. You could even go to classes or on walks with them to get them moving. They don’t need to do anything too strenuous, but they should try to stay active to keep their mobility up and stay independent for longer. Plus, they could end up keeping many health conditions at bay. Exercise helps with things like muscle retention, weight control, and bone health, which are all crucial as we get older.
- You’ll Need an Understanding With Your Siblings
If you have siblings, you’ll need to start talking to them sooner rather than later. Make peace with them if you need to and can. Everyone should be in the loop to avoid issues later on down the line. Make sure you’ve all had the awkward and uncomfortable discussions when you don’t have much on your plate.
- They May Need More Emotional Support
Role reversal can happen in many ways when your parents begin to age. They may require more emotional support than they used to, for example. This can be tough. You’ve probably grown up with them comforting you when you needed it, but now, you need to be there for them.
When they need emotional support, talk to them, and rather than lecturing them or trying to tell them what to do, just listen. Sometimes, listening and showing somebody you see them and understand them is the best thing you can do. Don’t just wait until they bring something up, either. They may be keeping things to themselves to avoid worrying you. Ask them and talk about how they feel and how they are coping. It can feel awful when you know your parents aren’t feeling great, but the fact that you are there for them will mean the world to them.
- They May Be More Forgetful – Go Easy On Them
Your parents may be more forgetful as they age, so go easy on them. They might mix names up, forget birthdays, and even start losing things. It’s not usually anything to worry about, but you should keep an eye on the signs of Dementia just to be sure.
- Let Them Keep Their Independence For As Long As Possible
If you worry about your ageing parents, then you may be thinking of getting them some help, either in-house or by moving them elsewhere. It’s important to remember that your parents should still have some control over their lives. They want to stay independent, and they often don’t want a huge upheaval. Try not to be dramatic and suggest help to them prematurely. When they do need help, expect it to be difficult to convince them. Be gentle with them, rather than pushy.
- They May Have Less of A Filter
You may find that your parent has less of a filter, and begins saying things that you wouldn’t expect a parent to say to their child, such as the fact they miss sex. How you handle this sort of thing is everything – don’t shame them or tell them you don’t want to hear it. They are often telling you something else – such as the fact they miss touch and human connection. Try to be understanding.
- Forgive Them if It’s Healthy To Do So
Few people had perfect parents. Your parents may not have been the best in the world – in fact, they probably weren’t. Many parents simply parent the way their parents showed them how, and for generations there have been flawed. It can depend on the year your parents grew up, as well as the environment they grew up in. Try to remember that your parents were probably doing the best they knew how, even if you feel it could have been better.
- Care For Yourself, Too
It can be very easy to get wrapped up in worrying about your parents. Don’t forget to care for yourself, too. You can’t pour from an empty cup. Try to get enough rest and practice self care as often as you can!