One Phrase We All Need to Remove from Our Conversations with Aging Parents

Family caregiver talking with senior loved one
There’s one phrase in particular we should eliminate from conversations with aging parents.

With aging parents, it’s not always easy to understand what our role as adult children should always be. We desire whatever is best for them, but if we’re not mindful, we’ll overstep our boundaries and discover ourselves attempting to parent our parents. 

This is particularly true when safety is a concern. There is a thin line to walk between making certain senior parents are safe, and promoting the independent lifestyle they require and deserve. It wasn’t that long ago when our parents were taking care of not just all their own needs, but ours as well. The changeover from care provider to care recipient is generally frustrating and painful for seniors.

With this in mind, there are a number of facets of independent life that a senior may now be missing. If we aren’t careful in exactly how we approach these losses, it may lead to hurt feelings, arguments, and fractured relationships. 

As an example, one part of senior independence that’s often jeopardized is in others stepping in to take over tasks which could now be a little more challenging and take a bit longer for a mature adult to perform. Even though intentions are certainly the best, it is actually bad for a senior’s self-worth and self-esteem. An improved approach is to allow more time, and to only offer assistance when truly necessary. 

Yet one of the greatest indicators of freedom is the ability to drive, to go wherever and whenever we please. When driving is no longer safe for a senior, it is crucial to approach the subject with empathy and tact. Neuropsychologist Dr. Sanam Hafeez explains that many times, adult children lose patience with their older parents, leading to hurtful comments that can be truly traumatic.

He recommends avoiding words such as, “You’re not allowed to drive any more!” It really is much kinder and more effective to present seniors with choices, and to engage them in brainstorming a viable alternative. A good example of this could be, “I’m sure it’s getting much harder for you to see clearly now, which must make it challenging to operate a vehicle. Let’s talk about some options that will allow you to go wherever you want safely.” 

Together, you can come up with a plan that is agreeable to everyone. When considering choices, take into account that JFS Care’s caregivers are available any time, day or night, to provide safe transportation and accompaniment for seniors. As the leading provider of elder home care in Los Angeles and nearby areas, our services are available in accordance with each senior’s wishes and timeframe, whether that means a regular lunch date with a friend, medical or salon visits, attending religious services, or just a Sunday afternoon drive to get out of the house and relish the scenery. Call us at (213) 383-2273 for details.