Caring for Aging Parents

Caring for Aging Parents - senior care DunwoodyIt is an amazing feeling to know that you are protected, safe and cared for. Parents thrive on making certain their kids are wrapped in the comfort of knowing their needs will be satisfied, giving the safety net that permits them the confidence to explore the world about them. Yet there comes a phase in all children’s lives when the craving for independence overshadows the benefit of protection, and they have to experience firsthand what it means to stumble, fall and get up on their own.

These types of protective instincts quite often trigger once again for adult children caring for aging parents. We wish to help them reduce risks, to ensure that they’re safe from harm. But at the same time, it’s all too easy to fall into a pattern of overprotectiveness if we’re not careful, which can result in feelings of anger as well as resentment on the part of the elderly parents.

According to professor of human development and family studies at Pennsylvania State University Steven Zarit, “One of the scariest things to people as they age is that they don’t feel in control anymore. So if you tell your dad not to go out and shovel snow, you assume that he’ll listen. It’s the sensible thing. But his response will be to go out and shovel away… It’s a way of holding on to a life that seems to be slipping back.”

A recent study explored the effect of stubbornness in older adults’ relationships with their adult children. Even though the seniors were less inclined to rate themselves as acting stubborn, their younger loved ones more regularly observed stubbornness as an issue. The key for adult children is in understanding their senior parents’ reason behind digging in their heels to hold onto their freedom and autonomy, and to refrain from arguing and generating an attitude of defensiveness. Clear, open and truthful communication between both parties can go some distance towards smoothing the waters and making sure everyone is heard and understood.

So what is the simplest way to take care of our older loved ones without attempting to control them? A healthy dosage of patience, respect and empathy will go far. Positioning yourself in the older adult’s shoes and understanding the importance of autonomy allows adult children to step back, as opposed to stepping in. Allow the additional time an older adult needs to finish a task, instead of doing the work for the individual. Always seek out opportunities to show the older person you value his or her input and guidance. For further tips on delivering care that doesn’t cross the line, contact Atlanta Home Care Partners, the Decatur home care experts, at (404) 228-0103. To find our if we offer our award-winning care in your neighborhood, please visit our Service Area page.