“No, Mom – you can just sit down and relax. I’ll take care of that for you.”
If you’re an adult child caring for aging parents, you’ve likely found yourself making statements like this. We want the best for our older loved ones, and to take care of them in the same way they took care of us as children. Yet deciding how to help aging parents best should not involve doing everything for them, as it can actually cause harm.
Seniors, like all of us, need to maintain dignity, and to continue to have a sense of purpose and meaning in life. It’s crucial to our self-confidence and self-worth. And for aging parents, the feeling that roles have been reversed and they now need their children to take care of them can feel especially demeaning.
Here are some ideas of how to help aging parents to ensure they feel respected, valued, and capable.
- Ask for advice. Older adults have a wealth of knowledge and experience. Make a concerted effort to tap into that wisdom whenever the opportunity arises. Ask Mom how she handled those challenging years of parenting a teen, or what her secret was for getting rid of those stubborn stains in the sink. Seek Dad’s guidance on how to change a tire, or where the best fishing spots are. Expound upon the particular interests and strengths the seniors possess, and you’ll both gain from the experience.
- Share your feelings. Let your loved ones know how much they mean to you now, as well as what they’ve taught you throughout your lifetime. Be specific: “Mom, remember how hard it was for me to learn to play the piano? You were so patient and never gave up on me and I appreciate that!” “Dad, I love your sense of humor! Whenever I’m having a bad day, all I have to do is remember one of your silly jokes and I instantly feel better!”
- Let them help. Regardless of a senior’s ability level, having meaningful tasks to do throughout the day is vital to his or her wellbeing. It may seem quicker and more efficient to do it all yourself, but find opportunities to allow your aging parents the sense of achievement in completing tasks, too. A senior with dementia can be given a cloth to wipe down the table, or a box of nuts and bolts to sort, for instance. Someone in a wheelchair can help with meal prep, folding laundry, paying bills, etc.
At SYNERGY HomeCare, one of the leading home healthcare agencies in Chicago, IL and the surrounding areas, our caregivers are skilled in providing just the right level of care that enhances safety and comfort while empowering seniors to remain independent. Call us any time at (773) 868-3183 with any questions and to request a complimentary in-home consultation to learn more.