Although ageing is a completely normal part of life, it doesn’t make it any easier to accept the fact that our loved ones are growing older. When we begin to notice changes in our parents that weren’t there before, we can become anxious and worried about their well-being.
This new reality may creep up on you slowly or it could happen suddenly, whatever the case, it remains a reality that we must accept. It’s essential that we confront this new stage of life with a positive attitude and that we deal with the circumstances to the best of our abilities. Here are some of our best tips on how to cope with your parents getting older.
Take the time to know them better
This may sound like a strange pointer, after all, most people have known their parents for their entire lives. However, it may surprise you how little you actually know about your own parents. Take the time to get to know them, ask them what their interests are, and what their new aspirations may be. No matter how old we get, our dreams and goals change, so it’s important to keep this conversation alive over the years.
Don’t bottle your emotions
Dealing with ageing parents can be both stressful and challenging, so it’s important that you recognise your own needs too. Don’t bottle up your emotions when times get tough. Instead, build a support network around you and try to delegate any responsibilities between different family members. If you don’t have anyone to help you take care of your parents, consider hiring external help.
Set yourself some boundaries
As we’ve noted, dealing with ageing parents can be incredibly demanding, so make sure to set yourself some boundaries. Although your parents form an important part of your journey, you can’t let them take over your entire life. If you need some help, make sure to ask for it. Don’t bite off more than you can chew, as you can risk burning yourself out and making matters worse.
Choose your battles wisely
When your parents reach a certain age, it’s vital that you pick and choose your battles wisely. If you have somewhat difficult parents, you need to understand that not every problem is worth fighting about. Sometimes it’s better to just let things slide and keep the peace. Instead, only address matters that are truly important to their overall well-being.
Encourage regular check-ups
Don’t wait until something feels wrong before you go see a doctor. Health is wealth, so make sure that you encourage your parents to have regular medical check-ups. If they are prescribed any new medication, take the initiative to ask whether this will interfere with any aspects of their current health regime.
Keep your parents active
Keeping your parents physically active may not be a possibility for all families, however, it’s important that you try to keep their mind as sharp as possible. On the physical side of things, you could encourage seated exercise or take them for daily walks. In order to improve mental health, you can help them pick up a new hobby, strike up stimulating conversations, and encourage them to have a social life.
Understand your potential to become a caregiver
Some of the biggest worries when it comes to our loved one’s aging includes their health and loss of independence. It’s important that you understand your ability to become a caregiver and whether this is the best decision for everyone. If you don’t live in close proximity, it may be wise to hire external help or look into other viable options such as medical alert devices for seniors.
Accept the cycle of life
If there is anything we can be certain about is that each and every one of us has a last day on this earth. The sooner we can accept the circle of life, the easier it will be to get on with our lives. Nobody lives forever and some of us will live longer than others, accepting this reality is the best way to heal.
It’s important to treasure every moment that you have with your parents, no matter how difficult this may be. Remember to be patient with them as they grow older, as they were once patient with you as well. At the end of the day, you simply have to be there for them. Let them know that you are there to support and love them, sometimes that’s all they need to hear.
Robert Haynes did his degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. He is interested in mental health and well-being.
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