PAYING IT BACK: HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR PARENTS AS THEY GET OLDER

It’s an undeniable fact that your relationship with your parents changes as you get older. When you’re young, they’re the ones in charge and you trust them entirely, in your teens you start to feel annoyed at the rules that they put in front of you, and as an adult, you start to see them as peers, as normal people just like you. But when they start to get older the balance of your relationship can shift in the opposite direction. You may start to have to take more care of them as they get older. This is something that both you and they might be somewhat unprepared for. After all, you may not be equipped to take care of someone, and they may not be that interested in having someone do everything for them. With that in mind, here are some of the things that you can do to help look after your parents as they get older, without making life more difficult for either of you.

DISCUSS WHAT HELP THEY NEED

The worst thing that you can do, no matter how good your intentions might be, is to try and take over your parent’s lives without properly discussing things with them. You might think you know what kind of help they need and that you’re doing the best thing for them, but taking away their independence in that way is an easy way to end up making everyone feel far worse in the long run. Discuss what kind of help they actually want and need so that you can have clear boundaries set out right from the start.

HELP THEM MAKE THE TOUGH CHOICES

There may come a time when your parents need to make some tough choices about the kind of help that they need. They could well end up needing the kind of help that only something like a live in care company can provide. If that’s the case, then they may need help from you to come to terms with that. Of course, that’s certainly not the same thing as pushing them into it. It should always be their decision, but it may fall to you to help them understand what the best choice for the well-being really is.

DON’T PATRONISE THEM

For too often people end up treating older people like overgrown children who can’t do anything for themselves. Don’t fall into that trap. Remember that your parents are still fully grown adults who are capable of making their own choices. If you talk to them or behave in a condescending way, then they’re just going to end up feeling angry and resentful, despite how much you might think that you’re trying to help.

It’s never easy to see your parents get older but it’s important to let them know that you’re there for them and to keep treating them the same way that you did before. It’s a tough balance to keep your relationship strong and stable while also looking after them, but it’s something that’s important for everyone involved.

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