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How to Deal with Parents Aging

Parents AgingI am an aging professional in the healthcare field. I have an extensive background in long-term care. I have had family members in long-term care facilities, I have worked in long-term care and for 17 ½ years I was an advocate for residents residing in long-term care. I hold a Master’s Degree in Gerontology. With all this experience nothing could have prepared me for how to deal with my own parents aging. One might think that I should have all the answers but knowing the answers and having the seniors being willing to take the advice are two different things.

I have found it very frustrating trying to deal with my own family’s experience. My father has serious mobility issues. He has had many falls and continues to be a great fall risk. His memory is failing and he constantly asking the same questions over and over. He will not follow the diet his doctor ordered.

Being a professional in the aging field I thought I would be able to step right in and come to the rescue. However, I soon found out that my parents had their own ideas of how to handle these issues. My mom was raised during the time when a wife was totally submissive to her husband. She will do anything he requests, even if it’s not in his best interest.

As an Elder Care Coordinator I am constantly talking to families telling them that their loved one is not trying to challenge them they are just holding on to every ounce of control they can. They don’t ask the same questions over and over to frustrate them, they have a disease that causes them not to remember. I tell families that no matter how challenging it is for them just try and put yourself in the shoes of your loved one.

This is all very good advice but when it comes to my own parents I find it hard to accept. As an adult child it can be frustrating not to have a parent allow you to help them. However, as long as they are competent and not a danger to themselves or others they have the right to make their own decisions. Regardless of what you might think is best for them.

What I have had to come to the conclusion of is that at some point my father’s situation may become a crisis (a heart attack, stroke or serious fall), and it will be at that point that they are willing to accept my help. What is my advice to all the adult children who are frustrated because their loved one will not accept their help? There will be a time when your help will be needed. That may come in the form of a crisis or your loved may just realize that their situation is bigger than they are and they need your help. Be there for them.

-Cheryl Wilson

Elder Care Coordinator