daughter discussing senior independence with elderly parent

Compassionate communication can help preserve senior independence and your relationship with your parents.

As our parents get older, it’s not necessarily very easy to determine what our role as adult children should be. We want whatever is best for them; however, if we’re not careful, it is possible to overstep our boundaries and discover ourselves attempting to parent our parents.

This is particularly true when safety is a concern. There’s a fine line to walk between making sure senior parents are safe and promoting the independent lifestyle they require and deserve. All things considered, it wasn’t that long ago when our parents were meeting not only all their own needs but ours as well. The change from care provider to care recipient can often be frustrating and painful for seniors.

Being mindful of this, there are specific elements of independent life that an older adult may now be missing. Of course if we aren’t careful in exactly how we approach these losses, we may produce hurt feelings, arguments, and fractured relationships.

For example, one part of senior independence that is often jeopardized is when others step in to take over tasks which could now be a little more difficult and take a bit longer for an older adult to perform. While the intentions are certainly the best, it is actually damaging to a senior’s self-worth and self-esteem. A far better approach is to allow additional time and to only offer assistance when truly necessary.

Yet one of the best indicators of freedom is the power to drive, to go wherever and whenever we please. When driving is no longer safe for an older adult, it is essential to approach this issue with tact and empathy. Neuropsychologist Dr. Sanam Hafeez explains that too often, adult children lose patience with their senior parents, leading to hurtful comments that may be truly traumatic.

He recommends avoiding phrases such as, “You’re not allowed to drive any more!” It really is much kinder and more effective to provide elderly people with choices and to engage them in brainstorming a viable alternative. A good example of this might be, “I’m sure it’s getting difficult to be able to see clearly now, which must make it very hard to operate a vehicle. Let’s speak about some options that will enable you to go wherever you want safely.”

Together, then you can come up with an idea that’s agreeable to everybody for preserving senior independence and dignity. When contemplating choices, keep in mind that Atlanta Home Care Partners’ caregivers are available any time, day or night, to offer safe transportation and accompaniment for seniors. Our services are available according to each senior’s wishes and timeframe, whether that involves a weekly lunch date with a friend, medical or salon appointments, attending religious services, or simply a Sunday afternoon drive to get out of the house and enjoy the scenery. We provide senior care Atlanta families can trust. Contact us at 404.228.0103 for details.