As your parents age, and their body and mind changes, they may develop health problems or mental health issues. They may get depressed or feel upset about things that would not have bothered them before. There can be all kinds of challenges involved in this changing relationship between aging parent and adult child.¬†You may need to learn new ways of communicating with them. Here are 5 things to keep in mind that will help open the lines of communication, enabling you to maintain a strong and healthy relationship with your loved one. These suggestions seem simple, but they are not always easy to do.
- Show them respect. Even though you have to do more care for them, they still want to be seen as the parent, not a child. Show respect by sitting down with them and interacting with them as the parent. Ask their advice and opinions like you used to do. Don’t make decisions for them. Let them speak for themselves and make their voices heard.
- Learn how to listen. It is still important to parents to be heard by their children, no matter what age they are. Try to truly listen, not just pretend. Give them your complete attention, sit down with them and let them talk about the past or whatever is on their mind. Listening can be hard work, get clarification if you need to. This is a great way to make their life a little easier.
- Stay calm. Researchers have found that some elderly people think they can say whatever is on their mind, sometimes not very kindly, and they will be forgiven because they are “old”. Other older parents may be slipping into the early stages of dementia, and say things they don’t mean. When they say something that feels hurtful, try not to lash out at them, but take a deep breath and walk away. Try not to take it personally. If this is an ongoing problem, you may need to talk to their doctor, because they could be showing signs of dementia, or evidence of a small stroke. Especially if this is not typical behavior for them.
- Establish good boundaries. It is important for your relationship to have some rules and boundaries. Let them know if their requests are unreasonable or don’t work for you. Learn how to say no. This will help keep your relationship strong and healthy.
- The best way to keep the lines of communication open is to simply show them you love them. Acknowledge when they do things to try to help you out. Let them know you appreciate having them in your life. Make them feel needed.
When it is time to have those conversations about a move to assisted living, we can help. Contact A Caring Heart for more information.