It is always better to be honest with others, right? But there are occasions when some truths are better left unsaid or at least worded more positively, particularly when talking with aging parents. While we might have the very best of intentions in wanting to help aging parents navigate life, we can help alleviate problems with hurt feelings in our family members by rethinking statements like the following:
- Don’t you remember…? Short-term memory loss is common in older adults, and pointing it out so candidly can be belittling. Instead, try non-verbal methods to help jog your loved one’s memory, such as strategically placing positive reminder notes around the house, like on the refrigerator, bathroom mirror, TV remote, etc. If a spoken reminder would definitely be helpful, make sure you try to keep your tone light; and inquire if the senior would really like someone to assist, such as in scheduling a medical appointment on her behalf or getting a prescription.
- You’re not trying hard enough. The stark reality is, many older adults develop physical or cognitive impairments that make once-simple tasks extremely challenging. It’s similarly important to not take over tasks the individual may still do, but which could take a bit longer to perform. Offering to act as a partner in accomplishing a challenging task could be effective, such as asking the senior to deal with some of task as you tackle another part of the task.
- I’m aware; you already told me. It may be frustrating to hear stories you’ve already heard more than once from a senior loved one, but it’s important to stay patient and offer the older adult the respect you would want if the tables were turned.
- When you die, can I have…? Nobody really wants to feel as if their possessions are of such value that someone cannot wait to have their hands on them. In the event that the person doesn’t have a will set up that outlines his or her wishes, it is definitely smart to have that looked after, but allow the person the freedom to decide to whom his or her belongings should be given.
- Wake up! Let go of any embarrassment you may have regarding your senior loved one falling asleep at inappropriate times, such as during a film, a religious service, or a concert. Altered sleep patterns, medication side effects, among other factors, can make it difficult for some seniors to sleep well during the night.
To get more effective communication tips to help your aging parents maintain dignity, or to inquire about our professional in-home care for seniors, contact JFS Care today at (213) 383-2273. We are proud to offer professional Jewish senior services in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas. Click here to view our full service area.