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  • vickie093

Don’t Boss Me Around

How many times have you heard that when your parents get old, the roles are reversed and you become a parent to your parent? Don’t believe it! It won’t happen.

Getting old is hard. No matter how many creams and anti-aging serums you use, aging doesn’t go backwards. One day you’re independent and living your best life and then, POOF, you need help and you become dependent on your children. Moving into old age is scary, it’s hard for parents to accept they can no longer do the things they once did. Sometimes parents become argumentative or abusive out of fear.

It’s difficult to accept that aging is a one-way street. Somehow, as you age you become invisible, you don’t matter, and it’s never clearer than when the child tries to become the parent.

Caretakers should look at parents with tolerance and patience and understand you are grieving for the person your parent used to be. Your parent isn't refusing your help, they are having a problem accepting the role reversal. Talk to your parent, consider their side, be open about how you feel, and keep the line of communication open. Understanding one another is the best way to have a better relationship and living environment.

Your parents have a lifetime of experience, and even though they move more slowly and think more slowly you will always be the child. Even when you think you’re right, resist the urge to argue or criticize. Don’t insult your parents. Just be where they are… I heard one person say “I wish someone had told me that I would have all these decisions to make and none of them would make any difference in the outcome. The most important thing is to be there.”

If you want your parent to exercise, and they don’t want to, don’t force it. If you want your parents to be more social and they don’t want to, they may become defensive. If your parent needs to go to a hospital for a ton of tests, but the parent isn’t going to do the surgery in the end, why press the issue?

When you don’t see eye-to-eye, instead of bossing your parent, or trying to be their parent, try being a partner. Respect their life experiences, reassure them you will be there as they get older, and let them know they are not a burden. Try to keep your sense of humor. Treat your elders the way you want your children to treat you when you are getting old.

A side note: Of course, if there is a serious illness, dementia or a sudden life change that limits your parent, families may have to shift quickly. Together, make an 'in case of emergency' plan.

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