You can always rely on them: Parents are the first point of contact, advisors, and babysitters for your children. It’s all the harder to see them grow old. Suddenly you are faced with difficult questions: How do seniors get help in everyday life? And when do you have to make important decisions? Sometimes you have different opinions about it. Nevertheless, together you can find a good solution for everyone.
Better make a plan to help the elderly early on
Maybe you think you still have plenty of time to plan for retirement. After all, your parents are still “young at heart” and sprightly. But most people age slowly. And then there is the point at which your parents can no longer cope with their everyday life on their own. Sometimes it goes faster than expected when an accident or illness suddenly turns life upside down. From around the age of 75, most people have to contend with increasing limitations. It’s best to plan early and ask yourself, “What if…?”
Keep an eye out for these red flags to notice when your parents need help:
- They are increasingly physically handicapped.
- They suddenly eat poorly and neglect themselves or their home.
- They can no longer organize their everyday life on their own, for example, because driving a car is difficult for them.
- You become noticeably more forgetful.
- They withdraw and you notice that their personality changes.
When old people get difficult: Remain respectful of stubborn old age
Communication with older people is not always harmonious. Even if you look up to your parents, you can still have your own opinion. In the same way, mother and father want their needs to be taken seriously. Children often think their parents are stubborn. The pensioners, on the other hand, perceive the young as patronizing. This easily degenerates into conflicts where no one wins. It is therefore most important to treat each other with respect and at eye level. The old do not tease the young out of malice. The loss of their autonomy is a painful process for them. Routines such as daily shopping mean security for them.
So put yourself in the shoes of your parents and address these issues with sensitivity. I-messages go down better with your counterpart than accusations. Explain to your parents how you feel and what your concerns are. Do not hold monologues: Ideally, you should use a quiet moment to tackle problems together and think about solutions. In this way, the parents can consciously participate in decisions and set their priorities. Don’t want to leave your home? Together you find ways to keep them staying as long as possible. Decide together when the parents need care or should apply for a care degree. It is also important that you receive certain powers of attorney.
When you can’t take care of your parents
Your everyday life is already filled with your own offspring and your professional life. Parents often live too far away to visit them regularly. In short: Of course, you want to help them – but job and care sometimes don’t go together. Many children have a guilty conscience because of this. Important for you to know: You are not obliged to look after your parents – neither legally nor morally. It doesn’t help anyone if you take care of your parents when you’re overwhelmed and stressed. That only creates a bad mood.
A loving relationship means doing your best to provide good care for your parents while also taking care of yourself. You don’t have to do everything on your own: assign tasks as best you can. Get your siblings involved. Sensitize other relatives, friends, and neighbors and see who can support you where. There is a lot of life support for seniors that can take the pressure off you, including home help and other services. And there is often someone in the neighborhood who can lend a hand. You will also receive support from care support centers and regional advice centers.
Caring for (dementia) parents and gaining strength
The problem becomes even more intense when a parent becomes demented. Dealing with people with dementia is not always easy. Their nature often changes, and they become disoriented and also easily irritable. People with dementia need rest – but should still remain as active as possible and challenge their minds. It is also important for those affected and their families to have the right support.
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