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How To Take Care Of Your Parents
Advice On Taking Care of Your Elderly Parents
When we were still in our nappies or diapers, we used to disturb our parents with our tantrums. We used to badger them for sweets and candy. When we learned the meaning of money, we pestered them for our allowances. So if the time comes when our parents cannot properly support themselves, financially or physically, what are we going to do? They were around for us when we used to annoy them repeatedly for something. Are we now going to be around for them?
Many parents are effectively abandoned by their children. They are abandoned to nursing homes and to institutions for the elderly. All too often, the young ones only visit during the holidays. In some parts of the world, the elderly, abandoned by their children, end up destitute. They become homeless beggars. The elderly are turning out to be the most neglected demographic in our society.
Yet many parents around the world are not abandoned or neglected. Their children still love them and care for them. Many experience the joy of looking after their grandchildren. They become an inspiration to their grandkids. NBA Hall-of-Fame legend Larry Bird and US President Barack Obama were raised by their grandparents when their own parents died.
Taking care of your parents should not be seen as a grim fate, but instead as a new experience, a new chance to learn. Many career-oriented people are unfortunate just because they do not have the time to spend with their elderly parents. They feel miserable for not being around when they are needed.
Those who are about to take care of their own parents have made a brave decision. Allowing our parents to live in our own homes is a wiser choice than leaving them alone at nursing homes. Nursing homes don’t always actively promote health and well-being. It is better for us to take care of our own parents than to have nurses or care-givers take care of them.
Not only will taking care of our parents be a new learning experience, but also a moment to strengthen the old bonds, to improve family ties, and to bring family members closer to each other and to the new generation. Taking care of our elderly parents can be a beautiful and emotional experience.
It is important that those who choose to take care of their parents learn how to distinguish needs from wants. Taking care of our parents means first of all taking care of needs. But sometimes we mistake needs for wants. Elderly parents do not only need clothing, food, and a warm place to sleep. They also need love, emotional and moral support, and time with their families.
Parents may want all kinds of things, from vacations and cars, to movie nights and trips to the restaurant. But as long as you understand that love and support are part of what they actually need, then it is okay to focus on meeting their needs.
But if you have to say “no” when your parents want something, then say it gently. You cannot please your parents all the time. If they want something done and you can’t do it, say “no,” but in a gentle manner. Understand how frustrating it must be for them to have to ask you to do things for them.
Those who take care of their elderly parents have many things to be worried about, and need to face their fears courageously. Our parents were once our rock of support. They protected us and helped us through hard times. But now we are the protectors and comforters.
The hardest part of taking care of elderly parents is living with the fear of death and then watching your parents die. Everyone fears death because of its finality. Before that moment arrives, it is a good idea to rekindle old but happy memories you and your parents shared together. Keeping memories a live will help your parents realize that part of them lives on after they are gone.
By the same token, don’t recall old grudges. Do not use your new position of authority with respect to your parents to exact revenge from some previous wrong. Be open to hearing their apologies, but do not demand apologies.
As your parents get older they become more dependent on you. But that doesn’t mean you should treat them like children. Respect the fact that they are mature beings with their their own thoughts and feelings.
Let your parents share the housework if they can. Some of our aging parents continue to love working or just the feeling of being useful. Let them decide if they are up to it. For many elderly it is to work than to stay idle.
You can also help your parents get involved in social activities. Activities with moral, spiritual, social, or emotional aspects will help bond your family. Going to church, setting up a booth at a fair, participating in a charity walk, helping out at a local school or homeless shelter, and so on, are all activities that can help to bring people together.
Don’t grumble if you think you are spending too much money or time taking care of your parents. Remember the sacrifices they made for you and remember that they are unique human beings who deserve your support.
If you are worried about money, try to keep it to yourself. The last thing you want to do is to create the impression that your parents are a financial burden. It is not uncommon for elderly people to commit suicide because they believe they are a burden on their families.
If you treat your parents with dignity and respect they will have the motivation to go on living and enjoying life. But there are always moments when we may feel sorry for our parents or when they might pity themselves. Try not to indulge or let your parents indulge in these kinds of debilitating emotions. Try to inspire in your parents the will to live and to enjoy life.
Taking on the responsibility of caring for your elderly parents can be a big challenge, but it represents a great second chance to show your parents how much you love them and appreciate the sacrifices that they made for you.