Growing old is not something any of us relish, but it is a natural part of life that we can’t avoid, no matter how hard we might try. Whilst ageing might be perfectly natural, however, it brings with it certain challenges to overcome, so we should always remain vigilant when it comes to the ones closest to us. It can be difficult to see our parents as vulnerable individuals. They did, after all, bring us into this world and teach us how best to negotiate it as adults. If you’ve started to notice they are needed a little more help in their old age, perhaps it’s time for you to return the favour?
Having a frank and open conversation with your parents about how their lifestyle needs to change as they get older might seem difficult, but with the right tools and the right approach, you should be able to convince them that they need help. Before you broach the subject of ageing gracefully with them, however, it would certainly be wise to plan ahead. On that note, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Start Talking Now
Don’t wait until a crisis happens before you open the conversation – be proactive and let your parents know you are concerned about them as soon as you suspect they might be at risk. Also, don’t be afraid to bring in other family members – siblings, aunts and uncles etc. But make sure all family members are on the same page before you begin.
Start with an outline of your thoughts and feelings and use bullet points to underline the key issues you want to get across. The most important topics to consider with elderly parents are their freedom, their peace of mind, maintaining their social lives and giving them the opportunity to make their own choices. Also, consider a practice run before actually beginning the conversation.
Your parents might not be as mobile as they once were, but that doesn’t mean they have to give up their independence. If they are confused by the concept of public transport, do your research and plan their routes into town for them. Also, consider discussing the option of mobility scooters from Mobility Solutions if they value being able to take care of their own transportation.
Try to put yourself in their shoes. This will be just as hard for them as it is for you. Understand that there’s no right or wrong answer and it’s important to keep a range of options open for every situation. Listen, let them talk and try not to position yourself as ‘the parent’ in this situation, as that could come across as condescending. Ease them into the subject, perhaps using a news story or a piece of news from a family or a friend and lead them into the conversation organically. As long as you are respectful, you should be able to make some real progress and help your parents maintain their dignity and independence.