Parenting Dad and mom, Dangerous Concept | Golden Years
It is known that many grandparents and great-grandparents do not share intimate details about their health with their children; they do not want their children to be burdened or worried. Having counseling sessions at home taught me some very important lessons. One of the biggest lessons I learned was that parents don’t want to be raised by their children. When the children ask their parents for help around the house, most parents revolt. On the flip side, watching the over 50 year old kids try to argue with their 80 year old teenage parents is quite entertaining. Just for the record, parents almost always win. In most of these scenarios, the parents need some support, but the children have taken the wrong approach.
In general, when parents slow down and help is needed to maintain the exterior of the house, nobody gets emotionally involved. It’s hot and the work is hard, so hiring a pool service or lawn maintenance company solves the problem without much discussion. However, when it comes to getting help for the house, it can provoke a very emotional response. When children talk about parents having self-employment help in their home, it often sounds suspicious to parents, as if they are losing or giving up some of their independence. This also applies when washing clothes, vacuum cleaning, changing bed linen, preparing food and sometimes personal hygiene can be very demanding tasks that are on a par with those outdoors. I think the difference is “privacy”. Letting someone into your house to touch your personal belongings creates fear while someone is not mowing the grass as much. Because of this, it is important to discuss the quality of the expected service provider in terms of reputation, insurance, retention, and background checks.
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Too often the topic of preparation for the advanced years is not discussed; instead, it is thrown at the parents during “The Conversation”. To avoid a confrontation situation, make sure the rest of the family is on board before you meet up with your parents. Choose a time and place so that you can relax and talk about quality of life and safety and so that your parents can communicate their wishes. This works best in a series of meetings rather than giving an ultimatum at the end of a meeting. Avoid any part of “The Conversation” on holidays or special family occasions. It might be convenient because the family is together and the parents are in a good mood, but it could get ugly.
Don’t make the experience threatening by telling your parents that you are concerned about their wellbeing and that you want to know how you or someone else can make their lives easier. Sharing experiences from friends or relatives with medical emergencies could serve as an opening for dialogue. Speak with respect. Respect their desire and need to be in control of their lives. Avoid reversing roles during discussions. Best to think of it as partnering with them to develop a plan. Ask open-ended questions that encourage your parents to share their feelings. Offer options, that is, more than one acceptable solution; not advise. Involving parents in the decision-making process enables them to exercise control and maintain their independence. Children can learn what is important to them by sitting back and listening and then listening even more. When the parents are ready, help them write down their plans to make sure they are carried out. The discussions become clearer as the plans are written. If your parents resist your efforts, try calling in a trusted third party such as a friend, doctor, or clergyman. You may be more open to discussion with a neutral person.
Parents can initiate the conversation. You don’t have to wait for the children to start the conversation. Many children are reluctant to think about their parents’ aging and hesitate to start the discussion. So if you are having trouble maintaining your home, driving a car, preparing meals, or maintaining personal hygiene, start the conversation with your children, your doctor, or other health care professional. Share your preferences with the family. Would you like to continue living at home with the help of a caregiver who can help you with certain tasks around the house? Would you like to downsize and move in with your family or move to independent or assisted living?
Whether you are a parent or child raising health, home care, and safety concerns, these conversations must be respectful and loving, and always remember that communication is key. Remember that your parents are your parents from birth until they die and they want their children to be respected regardless of their age. The goal is to make sure that your parents meet their needs and live safe, happy lives.
At Comfort Keepers® in Inverness, Florida, nothing is more important than helping seniors live full, independent, and dignified lives in …
Gailen Spinka has worked with our senior population since purchasing a Comfort Keepers franchise in 2004. Most opinions are gathered through interactions with customers and their families. For further discussion on this matter, please call Gailen at Comfort Keepers 352-726-4547.