As our parents get older, they often require assistance with everyday tasks that are becoming more difficult. Whether it’s helping with preparing meals, managing medications or making important health care decisions, you’ll want to make sure you approach the situation in a way that is perceived as supportive, as opposed to overbearing. So, how do you take on the role of caring for Mom and Dad without making them feel as if they’ve completely lost their independence?
How to Help Aging Loved Ones Without Being Overbearing
Being there for your loved ones from the moment you notice them experiencing difficulties will help you preserve their autonomy in the long run. Unfortunately, many seniors see even small interventions as the beginning of the end of their independence, which is why it’s so important the assistance you provide is done in a respectful and understanding manner.
Following a few simple rules can make a world of difference in the way that you provide care. Above all else, remember that you are doing your best to navigate this new normal: be aware how your loved ones might be feeling and don’t be afraid to alter your approach if you have overstepped their boundaries.
Here are four things aging parents need from their adult children and caregivers:
1. Direct Communication
Clear communication is the key to a happy and healthy relationship between you and your parents. By opening up a dialogue about where they need your support, you will empower them to continue to make decisions they’re confident in. Keep on asking yourself:
- Am I listening to them?
- Am I taking their concerns seriously?
- Am I advocating for their health?
During difficult conversations, it’s important to remain positive. Helping your loved ones maintain their self-esteem and stay on top of their mental health can have a huge effect on their overall well-being. Try encouraging your aging loved ones to continue to participate in the hobbies and activities that bring them joy—life doesn’t stop after retirement!
3. Safety Systems
No matter how much or little help your loved ones need, it’s always a good idea to set up some support systems that can keep them safe and intrude on their regular routine as little as possible. Some examples may include:
- A medical alert system—Wearable pendants are fairly unobtrusive and provide peace of mind should Mom or Dad have a medical emergency or an accident (like a fall).
- Assistive devices—Medication organizers and mobility aids can make activities of daily living (ADLs) easier for them.
- Simple home modifications—Nighttime lighting and grab bars can provide added safety and security.
4. Assistance With the Right Things
It’s easy to want to swoop in and tackle every potential issue that may come their way, but try and let your loved ones take the lead and limit your assistance to just those things, at least in the beginning. Areas seniors commonly require support with include:
- Personal Care
Finding The Solution That Best Fits Your Family
Sometimes seniors are more accepting of outside help, such as assistance from a professional caregiver that has been hired through a home care company or, if moving to a retirement community is the right fit, a staff member there that can meet their needs. In these instances, your loved one gets the support they need without it impacting their relationship with you. Regardless of what the solution is, make sure you work together to address the problem at hand.