Building positive relationships with aging parents
As adults we often face various challenges in dealing with our aging parents. This is the time when we are required to do the role-reversal with our parents. Now we are the one who has to take responsibility, provide care, and maintain a healthy relationship with our parents. This seems quite easy to say, but in reality it requires great deal of maturity and effort from our side.
As we grow up, our life complicates. Now, we have to take care of our family and take responsibility of our children as well as take care of our aging parents. Our minds has to do multitasking and often this stresses us out. At the same time our parents are also aging and they too require our attention, care and support. Often in doing so, we fail to keep a balance between our relationships. All this time our parents were the supporting pillars in our lives. Suddenly with time when we are expected to do the role-reversal we stumble in the process. This is quite natural.
In case of a sick parent, death of one parent, or financial instability there might be an increased need of support both emotional and social from our side. We now have to take extra care of our parent by providing transport, health care, financial support, and care giving. At this time we may often feel extra burden in our lives. So proper management of issues and effective decision-making can help us to tackle this situation.
A healthy childhood often eases the relationship with our aging parent. The relationship we shared with our parents all these years now bears the fruit. A comfortable and loving relationship and most importantly an understanding between the adult child and his parent is of utmost requirement. But it might not be the case all the time. In some cases, an adult child might share a strained or troubled relationship with his or her parents. Some unresolved conflicts can instigate problems and issues in the relationships. In such cases, this might generate negativity and again trigger conflicts between the aging parent and the adult child.
As we grow up new relationships come into our life such as our spouse, our children, our friends and so on. Gradually our dependence on our parents diminishes. We lose our attachment to some extent. Our needs change but the moment we feel the threat of losing a parent this sense of dependence or attachment with our parents emerges and we suddenly feel lost or scared. At that time helping and providing care and support to our parent gives us comfort.
How can we maintain a healthy relationship with our aging parent
Understanding your parent's needs: As our parents age there is bound to be certain limitations to their behavior and needs. They might get cranky, agitated or upset over small issues especially if they are sick and fragile. As we age our memories diminish so do our sense of reflex. If a parent forgets certain important things it is needless to poke or coax them. Forgetting things is quite natural at their age. Instead we can ignore or help them to remember. Do not let them lose their self-confidence. Ask your parent what does he or she need at this time. Try to provide a comfortable living arrangement.
Work out conflicts and be honest with your parent: We should try to reconcile any old unresolved issues or conflicts that we have with our parents. Our parents love us unconditionally so remembering old fights and conflicts will do us no good. Instead try to resolve those issues. For this we need to be completely honest and transparent. Talk your hearts out. Let your parents understand and know your feelings. Listen to what they have to say. Even if they are unreasonable, which is quite common at their age try to reconcile and adjust to that.
Spend quality time with your parents: We can adjust our work schedule and work out a time which we can spend with our parents. Going out, watching movies, family dinners and get-togethers, helping parents with shopping and their hobbies will not only develop a healthy relationship with our parents but also help us to relax and unwind. Ask your brothers or sisters to join you in this process and enjoy the time as a family.
Accept parents as they are: Every individual is unique. We may not like some behaviors or habits or lifestyle of our parents, but this is the lifestyle that they have been following for years now. Nobody can change it now so it is better to adjust and accept their present lifestyle. Embrace their imperfections and failures. Take example from your own life. Go through your challenges as a parent or as a husband or as a wife. Don't we have imperfections and setbacks too? So does our parent. Acknowledge and appreciate for the love and life that they have given to us. Imagine your own life as a parent. See how difficult it is. Do not remind them of their mistakes but instead talk about their success and achievements.
Encourage your parent: Encourage your parent to have an active and fruitful life. Introduce your parent to new avenues and new hobbies. Let them view life as a beginning of a new chapter. Help them if they have faced any challenges so that they do not get into depression. Involve your kids into activities that include their grandparents.
Learn about your parent's aging process: As we age numerous changes happen both physically and mentally. Aging parents might tend to withdraw or seclude themselves from us. In that case, try to talk to your parents about any particular need or expectation that they have from us. Some might not like the presence of a caregiver or a nurse or a doctor in particular. Try to arrange an alternative so that your own relationship with your parent is not strained by these differences. Also talk to your parents about how they can help you in this process. Ask them kindly to cooperate with you.
Respect your parent's opinion and give them their space: Your parents deserve utmost respect and love from you. Ask them for advice and respect their opinion. They have experienced a full life and their knowledge is precious. Give them respect and ask your children to do so too. Your children will learn from you. Try to give personal space and privacy to your parents. Every human being need some privacy and individual time. Talk to them and ask them what they need.
A family cannot thrive without mutual love, support and dependence on one another. As our parents age, do not think that they are helpless or a burden. This is the cycle of life. From the day we are born, we all are dependent on each other sometimes as a child, a wife, an adult, or as a parent. Dependence comes with love and affection towards our family. It is the very thread that binds us together. Adulthood and aging is a journey. Help your aging parent physically, emotionally and spiritually. Make them aware of your love and support. Involve your family, children, and your siblings in the process. Do not hesitate to ask for help. Try to take care of yourself too. Often in the process of care-giving we get stressed out so we need to relax as well. Enjoy the process to reduce stress and anxiety. The more love we spread the more love we get in return. The love and care that we share now will only help us to cherish their sweet memories in future.
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