Navigating Change

How can you do what you think is best for your parents when they are resistant to change?

Perhaps you’ve been noticing that your parents aren’t as agile as they once were.  Your Mom stopped sending holiday cards (hey, she deserves a break, she’s done it for years)
Your Dad still insists on paying the bills but you’ve seen the late notices. (Well, gee, we all forget from time to time.)
You’re not sure if they’re eating right, taking their medication at the right time, bathing regularly.

Making adjustments in elder-parent/adult-child relationships requires a delicate understanding of a phase in life we can only imagine.  Having never been elders, there’s no frame of reference, no prior experience to guide us.  How do we even know some of the above scenarios are  intervening-worthy?  How can we appease our own sense of concern while honoring decisions that appear less than reasonable?

1-    Remember what your mother taught you: treat others as you would like to be treated.
Think how you like to be approached with suggestions about your life.  How do you respond when someone implies you’re no longer capable of a certain task?

2-     Get the facts.  Sometimes what we see as an issue is normal for this developmental phase of life.                         Brain research indicates that the elder mind focuses less on detail and more on the big picture.

3-    Check in with yourself: Are you reacting to something in order to address your own discomfort or is this truly about what is best for your parent/s. Be brutally honest. If you’re not sure how to gauge this, join a support group, hire a coach or find a resource that will help you sort this out.

4-    Do what you can to be an ally. Utilize outside sources as often as you can to let other, non-emotionally-involved people be bearer of news that might be upsetting. This way you can be a support system and source of comfort.

Life can change dramatically for everyone involved. Change in living situations can be difficult, of that we can be sure. But by becoming an ally and acknowledging your parent’s concerns and feelings, you can lessen the trauma and perhaps even celebrate this new phase!

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