What Not to Say When Caring for Aging Parents
- By: Scott Vanderhoef
Honesty is always the best policy, right? However there are occasions when some truths are better left unsaid or at least worded more positively, particularly if talking with aging loved ones. While we might have the very best of intentions when caring for aging parents and helping them navigate through life, we could help alleviate problems with hurt feelings in our senior parents by rethinking statements like the following:
- Don’t you remember…? Short-term memory loss is actually quite common in older adults, and pointing it out so bluntly can be belittling. As an alternative, try non-verbal strategies to help jog your loved one’s memory, like strategically placing positive reminder notes at home, such as on the refrigerator, bathroom mirror, TV remote, etc. If a spoken reminder would still be helpful, be sure to try to keep your tone light; and ask if the senior would really like anyone to assist, such as in scheduling a medical appointment on her behalf or getting a prescription.
- You’re just not trying hard enough. The stark reality is, many older adults develop physical or cognitive impairments that make once-simple tasks extremely challenging. It’s also important never to take over tasks the individual can still do, but which may take a bit longer to manage. Offering to serve as a partner in accomplishing an arduous task can also be effective, like asking the senior to manage part of the task as you tackle another part of the task.
- I know; you already told me. It can be frustrating to listen to stories you’ve already heard before from an aging loved one, but it’s important to stay patient and provide the older adult the respect you would want if the tables were turned.
- When you die, am I able to have…? Nobody really wants to feel as if their possessions are of such value that family can’t wait to get their hands on them. In case the older adult does not have a will in place that defines his or her wishes, it is certainly a smart idea to have that looked after, but let the person have the freedom to decide to whom his or her belongings must be given.
- Wake up! Let go of any feelings of embarrassment you might have regarding your senior family member drifting off to sleep in inappropriate times, like during a film, a religious service, or a concert. Altered sleep patterns, medication side effects, among other factors, make it hard for some older adults to sleep well during the nighttime.
For more effective communication ideas to help senior family members retain the dignity they deserve, contact Heaven at Home Senior Care in Dallas, TX today at 866-381-0500 or click here to contact us online.