Caring for Senior Parents

It can be difficult as adult children to step into this new role of assisting our senior parents. While we may recognize that this is an opportunity to repay our parents for all of their previous help, a variety of needs must be kept in mind for all.

Here are three things to consider when adult children are required to transition into the role of helping with their parents’ caregiving needs.

 

Communication

Findings by researchers at Penn State suggest that both adult children and their aging parents identify “parents” as being stubborn. Understanding why all adults – both the parents and adult children -- may feel this way can lead to better communication. Open two-way communication, particularly with sincere effort to understand what all involved want, need and hope for, will help a lot when creating a specific care-plan that is accepted by everyone concerned.

 

Acknowledge “Interdependence”

In a study published by the American Geriatrics Society, older adults said they liked the idea of “interdependence” — acknowledging that people need one another from childhood to older age. Participants in the study noted that they want to be recognized as contributing something meaningful to society, even if they become more limited in certain abilities over time. Openly discussing interdependence can help parents overcome the reluctance of accepting assistance.  It can also make people receptive to the ideas of “outside of the family” support, including nurses, aids or others, or community living that may be the best choice for a variety of good reasons.

 

Find Meaning

Discussing involvement with others along with maintaining a strong sense of meaning and purpose in life is essential for aging adults. Nobody wants to feel as if they are passed their prime and age has “moved them out to pasture.” There are many local organizations that adult children can point their parents to, based on their interest and hobbies. A sense of community is important throughout every stage of our lives and it does not lesson at all as our years add up. Just like parenting is easier when we can commiserate with like-minded parents who are also coping with teething infants and moody teens, our senior years get better when we can reflect and relate with others who are also facing physical challenges of aging while still wanted to live fully.  In fact, it is this sense of community which is so prevalent at Brookdale Senior Living, throughout their 800 senior living facilities in 45 states that I found quite valuable. At Brookdale, days are filled not just with all sorts of activities – but members are enjoying the company of others within their peer group.

Finding programs that offer holistic approaches that incorporate the six dimensions of wellness: purpose, emotions, physical, social, spiritual, and intellectual will go a long way in showing we are grateful for all our parents have given to us.

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