Coming to terms with the fact that your parents or other close family members are starting to get older can be difficult. Watching your loved ones grow old and frail and lose their vitality can even be heartbreaking but it’s important to find ways to deal with these worries.
Try to keep in mind that your aging family members are probably as concerned as you are, if not more. Do your best not to project your stresses and worries into them, but rather support them through this time while you seek other ways of coping with your feelings. Here are a few ways that you can try to handle the situation.
Help Them Practically
The truth is, they’re going to start needing assistance with simple tasks, and you being there to help them out will not only make them feel better but will probably make you feel a little more like you’ve got some control. Being a good caregiver to them in their golden years will help show appreciation for all they did for you as parents.
You can help them by making their home safer with one of the best medical alert systems with fall detection, and helping them to remove any rugs or furniture which could cause them to fall. Assisting them with their health and safety will be a great help to them.
You can also set them up with some tools that might help them in their day-to-day. Think smart home systems, meal delivery subscriptions and cleaning services.
Accept the Truth
As hard as it is, we all need to accept the cycle of life and death and the fact that nobody can or will live forever. Making peace with the fact that you will lose your parents and grandparents at some point will form an important part of setting your heart at ease and calming your fears. Maybe read some books on this matter, or talk to a therapist if you need help with this issue – there is no shame in seeking help for coping with difficult situations.
Be With Them
Realize that your time with your family is not endless. Something that might make you and them feel better is dedicating yourself to spending quality time with them while you still can. Keep in mind the simple saying, “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone”.
Be considerate of your loved one’s needs and wants and perhaps take the opportunity to have a little fun with them. Take them to places they have always wanted to see, cook some exciting meals for them and travel with them if you can. Making new and special memories will mean the world to both of you when they reach the point of not being able to do these activities anymore.
Focus on the present moment and the fact that you have them in your life right now, rather than on a future where they might not be around anymore.
Ask Them What They Need
It’s easy to slip into the mindset of “I know what’s best for them” when it comes to people who can’t take care of themselves properly anymore. It’s normal to have those feelings. However, try to remember that they still know themselves best and they might have needs that aren’t being met or ideas that could make situations better and easier on everyone. Trust their opinions, they are still adults!
Despite the above tip, you may run into family members who are stubborn and don’t want to allow you to help them. If you know for a fact that a certain change they are resisting will truly be for their benefit (such as a new medication), try to be persistent in helping them out, and remember that that could be lashing out from the frustration of losing control over their own decisions.
Be sensitive to the fact that your loved ones are going through difficult times and might have fears that even you don’t understand. Listen to them and try to acknowledge why they might be acting in certain ways or resisting help.
Their anxiety and the changes in the way they think could be driving many of their decisions, and they need to be reminded that they’re not alone through this journey.
Support Them Emotionally
As we already mentioned, this time is going to be tough on them too. Consider how they might feel about losing their energy and not being able to take care of themselves anymore. This could be frustrating and even embarrassing for them. While your practical help and caregiving will be invaluable, they will also need to lean on you for emotional support.
Be there to listen to their fears and comfort them with the fact that you’ll be there with them through it all. It might not seem like much, but simply having someone to listen to your fears and struggles can truly lift the weight off a little.
Have An Outlet
Another important factor through all this is taking care of your own needs too. As much as your family might be struggling right now, this is going to be hard on you too, and you deserve to take care of your own mental health.
If you need to vent, try to find another family member that you know you can trust with your feelings and frustrations. Letting out your emotions is important to prevent lashing out at your aging loved ones, and bottling the feelings up isn’t good for your own mental state. Having someone to talk to, along with healthy coping mechanisms, like exercise or meditation will go a long way in getting you through this journey.
This is undeniably a journey that’s going to be a little tough on everyone, but all you need to do as a supportive family member is your best. Try not to beat yourself up about your loved one’s struggles. As long as you’re doing what you can to support them, chances are you’re helping a lot and they’ll be really appreciative.
A professional writer with over a decade of incessant writing skills. Her topics of interest and expertise range from psychology, to all sorts of disciplines such as science and news.