How to Handle an Aging Parent

How to Handle an Aging Parent

The best way to handle an aging parent is to use love, care and understanding.

I have an aging parent whom is my mother and I am left wondering how I will handle her care all alone. This is becoming an all too common situation for a lot of families, not just mine.  It can be difficult but it doesn’t have to be if approached with patience.  I am an only child and the thought of having to do it all alone at times feel overwhelming. For a while I was in denial and wanted my Mom to act like she always had, strong- willed, straight forward and independent. Little did I know, she is the same person but somehow different.

I am left to figure out how to care for my aging parent without letting her know I am caring for her. It is my wish for her to maintain a level of independence while offering her assistance when needed. Her ability to be comfortable in allowing me to assist her in making her life easier without me making her feel like a “burden” is my primary concern. No one wants to feel like a burden and I definitely do not want to make my Mom feel that way.

I know I have to develop a strategy.

I need a strategy to care for my aging parent without being detected.

My strategy is to provide love in remembering who she is to me, care to assist her in her daily or health needs and understanding in how her life is changing as she is getting older.

The first thing I need is an understanding. You see, my aging parent is very proud and independent. She is usually the one caring for others. She is accustomed to others coming to her for assistance instead of the other way around. Knowing this fact, made me realize I had to be undercover as it related to giving her assistance. I need to provide as much understanding as possible to her changing condition. I need to understand that my mother may feel different within her mind and body. She may feel insecure of the health changes that are taking place. I feel as though it is my job to allow her to continue to feel secure in her place of being “the mom”.

Providing care is a necessary part of my strategy of handling my aging parent.

Yes, fortunately my aging parent can still remain relatively independent. While independence is not a major concern I still want to make myself available as needed. My intention is not to push too hard but to assist without asking. What I mean is, my aging parent will always tell me she does not need, want or desire any help. So instead of asking what she needed, I would just indirectly let her know I am willing and am going to make myself available to her. I am able to be there for my Mom, my aging parent, in an indirect way without her feeling burdensome.

By this I mean, I have discussions with her letting her know I am available to accompany her to doctor’s visits, on shopping outings and to make house calls (when there are repairs needed at her house). Of course, I am informed that it is not necessary but I insist that I want to help and it would make me feel better. I impress upon her that I just want her to be okay. This type of discussion usually win out.

My ability to take a soft hand approach has allowed me to be there for my aging parent.

It makes her feel more in control and I have the peace of mind in knowing I will be there for her when she needs me. Applying love is the ultimate strategy. It is important that I remember my aging parent is changing both mentally as well as physically. Her changes make it necessary for me to adjust how I interact with her. But her life and health changes does not stop me from loving her. As long as I continue to show her love I know she will continue to enjoy her life. Family is a vital part of my mother’s life. As long as she feels a part of our family, I know she will feel love from us.

It has become my understanding that is vitally important that I allow my strong-willed aging parent to maintain some level of dignity. It is not my intention to make her feel as though I am taking over her life to control nor dictate. I only want for her to maintain her life to the best of her ability for as long as she possibly can. Enabling her to communicate her needs to me is my system of assisting without her being defensive. It is never my wish to impress upon her that she is unable to care for herself. It is more or less my job to ensure she can continue to live her life on her terms with only minor adjustments for as long as she can.

I guess the best way to handle an aging parent is not to be in denial.

It is when you are in denial that you ignore what is really at hand. That is, your parent is changing. You may not like it. You may not be ready for it. But you must acknowledge, if you are getting older, your parent is as well. When you address what you are really feeling, you will be able to be there and assist your aging parent.

It is not about you. You have heard the old cliché “once an adult but twice a child” or something like that. If you can relate to the idea of your aging parent will become more childlike as they get older; it may allow you to  have a better handle on what is to come. This state will require more hands on care from you when needed. You must be able to make the necessary decisions as they are needed. Some decisions will be unpleasant but necessary and should be made in the best interest of your parent. After all, what is really important is to understand that your parent is changing. The quicker you can accept this fact. The better your relationship will be with your aging parent.

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