It can be very concerning if not extremely scary to see a decline in your parents’ health and wellbeing, especially if you are encountering this situation for the first time. What can you do for them and yourself? In this article, I will explore some of the basic ideas and actions for you to consider.
Understand Their Needs
When you notice a decline in the health and wellbeing of your aging parents, it’s easy to slip into parental mode. Adult children tend to think their aging parents need supervision and that they are the only ones qualified to do such. Instead, try to look for the underlying cause of their actions. Perhaps your parents’ health is declining because of normal aging. In this case, you can take measures to alleviate their life stressors. On the other hand, your parents might simply need to break a routine or habit to rediscover their energy.
Accept the Situation
Getting older and losing your facilities is a part of life. Although it can be difficult to accept these changes, it is inevitable, both for your parents and yourself. One way to address the issues you face is to adopt an attitude of acceptance. When you accept the reality of the situation, perhaps your parents’ eyesight or hearing is deteriorating, or perhaps it’s their mobility; acceptance can motivate you in new ways. Adjusting your expectations can be both beneficial and productive.
Pick Your Battles
When you see that your parents’ health is declining, it can be tempting to try and address the issue with the repetition of advice. For example, you might try to encourage them to take up a new fitness regime, such as a new diet, or try some new activities to improve their health. While your intentions are in the right place, your actions and advice can lead to stress for your parents and tension in your relationship with them. Instead, think about what is really important to your parents and pick your battles, so they don’t feel overwhelmed.
Looking after your aging parents can be difficult and stressful, especially when dementia is involved. When an adult has to relinquish their everyday needs, it isn’t just stressful for you, it is for them too. Take the time to take care of yourself and practice self-kindness. Unless you are able to address your loved ones’ issues with an internal smile, you might be draining yourself, which can affect your health. Find your comfort zone and anchor yourself there as much as possible.
Treat Them as Adults
Once again, it’s very easy to take on the parental role when you are looking after aging parents, but role reversal can put everyone in a position where they don’t feel comfortable and ultimately, not living their best life. Even if your parents have trouble remembering things, there are skills and techniques that you can use to maximize their autonomy and minimize your intervention. Your parents are still adults, and it’s important to continue to treat them as such.