Aging can be a confusing process for many individuals. It is difficult for our loved ones to understand they may no longer be capable of performing certain tasks. It is not uncommon for them to continue attempting their normal routine even if they physically or mentally are no longer able to.
As a caregiver, trying to confront these issues can be met with frustration from our loved ones. In this blog, we will discuss tips from AARP on how to comfort your aging parents as they encounter these scenarios while aging.
Avoid your Own Denial
Going from child to caregiver for your parent can be an odd concept to comprehend. Out of respect and dignity we often find ourselves neglecting to step forward and oppose parent’s insistence to continue their daily life as they always have.
For example, allowing your mother to continue to climb the steps in her home, even as she struggles, may seem like you are empowering her to succeed. However, it only serves to compound her denial and can cause further problems.
Make a Concise Point
When confronting denial, you may find yourself professing broad statements such as “I do not think you should walk up the stairs anymore”. It is important to be upfront and express your thoughts about your aging parent or loved one’s current capabilities using precise details.
“The doctor has told you your joints have weakened and you have even admitted having difficulty walking, I think it would be wise if we called Stannah and ordered a stairlift for your staircase,” serves as a better way to handle an issue like this.
Chatting about something like stairlifts in a non-threatening way will ensure you diffuse any anger before it starts. Having a doctor’s backing will always strengthen your position, too, especially if you get more than one opinion.
Counteract Weaknesses by Emphasizing Strengths
Constantly highlighting weaknesses can have an adverse effect that may put a strain on the relationship with your loved one. It is important to continually stress that they still have countless strengths and endearing qualities.
For example, a caregiver may say something like “I know that you are aggravated you have to use a stairlift to get upstairs, but I am proud that you still manage to walk everywhere else in the house.”
Expect an Angry Response
Assisting your loved ones in coping with aging is not a simple process. Denial can cause them to respond in anger and make a concerted effort to insist they are capable and protect their pride. Arguing back will not solve this issue. It is important to remain calm, and make each process a slow transition.
Put yourself in their shoes. Simply having the ability to do something such as walk up the stairs by yourself taken away could feel like you are becoming less capable. Nobody wants to be told they are becoming less capable!
Trying to deal with aging relatives in a comforting but clear way can be difficult to navigate. You can read more about stepping into the caregiver role in Caring for Elderly Parents from the Australian Institute of Family Studies.