Anti-bullying campaigns are everywhere these days. No longer can a rough and tough ten-year-old get away with teasing and tormenting his classmates; we’re now a zero tolerance society when it comes to bullying. But is it possible there’s a different, less visible form of bullying happening – that of overstepping boundaries with aging parents, perhaps even reversing roles and attempting to parent our parents? After all, even if our parents’ choices are different than ours, their choices should still be respected as much as is possible, with safety in mind.
There’s a fine line between the helpfulness required in providing care for older adults, and trying to take over for them. And added into the mix are often unresolved issues from childhood that can resurface – feelings of resentment and bitterness that may find their way into an adult’s caretaking decisions.
For example, there are several main areas of contention that often arise between older adults and their grown children:
- When to stop driving
- How to manage finances
- Recommended safety modifications
- Medical decisions
- Planning for end of life
These tips can help diffuse difficult situations more effectively and respectfully:
- Try negotiating a safe alternative for an issue such as driving, like reducing driving time to short, local trips taken during daylight hours only.
- Start with small suggestions that may be more tolerable to seniors, such as adding no-slip strips to the bathtub, moving cords away from walkways or taping down rugs.
- Always be mindful of the senior’s wishes, and respect those as much as possible without compromising safety. Ask for their input without speaking down to them, and you’re more likely to work together for a successful outcome.
- Put yourself in the senior’s shoes. How would you feel in a similar circumstance, and how would you want to be treated?
- If there are health or safety concerns, however, don’t hesitate to contact a social worker or the senior’s physician.
And keep in mind that sometimes, intense discussions such as these are often better received through an objective third party or in the presence of a trusted medical professional or clergy member. Need additional resources for softening the blow of tough topics? Contact North River Home Care in the Boston area for trusted, professional assistance in keeping your senior loved ones safe, while allowing them to remain as independent as possible where they’re most comfortable – at home.