As two generations age in parallel, there comes a strange moment in which our roles tend to reverse.
For our elders, this is not so much a regression, but a natural slowing that naturally comes with getting older. For those of us among the younger generation, we may suddenly realise that the parent we’ve looked up to our whole lives – and looked to for support – now needs us to take the helm from time to time.
Several root causes behind many age related behavioural changes are very common, and easy to spot with a little know-how. What is more, building upon this knowledge can allow you to achieve greater empathy, melt away tensions, and provide better support within your relationship.
Challengingly, the nature of such a flip means that it is ultimately out of our control. We may find ourselves baffled by the changes we see in our parents, butting heads as they dig in when we try to help, or when our perspective on important issues differs. However, with some careful insight acquisition, and mindful deduction, we can make great strides in closing any gaps of understanding.
In order to make this transition go a little smoother, we’ve compiled some valuable insights to help guide you as you navigate an evolving dynamic with your senior loved one.
1. Side Stepping Pride
A life well lived gives plenty of reason to look back with pride, and rightly so! However, pride can also act as a gremlin, as can make us feel reluctant to ask for help at any age.
For our elders, experiencing increasing difficulty and a sense of losing control can make pride rear its head in a most unhelpful way. It can feel incredibly hard to reach out and ask for help – especially when not quite ready to deal with what that need implies.
For you, as the younger party, navigating this delicate area can be as simple as respectfully stepping in, and taking up the slack without being asked.
As you spot areas in which your loved one might need assistance, either offering to help or casually getting things done in the background can break an impasse.
2. Coping With Loss
For many facing their twilight years, ageing can come with a heady sense of loss. Whether experiencing a loss of independence or freedom, or the loss of loved ones, the emotions that follow can be a substantial burden.
Coming to terms with such significant life events takes time, and in the interim can cause an impact to health, behaviour, and wellbeing.
Support and patience are key as we join our elders on their journey into this new phase of life. Taking small steps in terms of talking about changes, and allowing time to process them, will make all the difference.
3. Running At Different Speeds
Contemporary living tends to be a whirlwind of busyness and multitasking. We might find that we are running at double speed in comparison to our elders – or indeed, that they are only sailing at half-mast!
Rather than getting frustrated over this tortoise and hare scenario, it is important to take the time to slow down and meet our loved ones at their speed.
Rather than clashing because we are still in rush mode, we can create windows in which we can relax, and fully engage. Before speaking on the phone, or meeting in person, take a moment to check your inner speedometer, and settle into a gentler pace.
By giving your elderly loved one your full attention, you may discover that slowing down was exactly what you needed too!
4. Embrace Wandering Thoughts
If you find yourself trying to steer conversation with your elder back on track whenever they take an unexpected tangent, ask yourself: why not go with the flow? We often assume, based on preconceived ideas, that our loved ones are entirely off topic.
However, you may find that there are connections to be found when you take the time to listen. By allowing conversation to meander, you might discover valuable memories, facts, concerns, or connections that you would otherwise have been unaware of.
Remember how patient your parents were when you were learning to master simple tasks as a child. Today, it is your turn to practice patience, and immerse yourself in sharing whatever that might unfold.
5. Uncovering Causes Of Resistance
The sense that our elders are resisting us on important issues can feel very frustrating. However, there is usually an underlying reason to be discovered. In reality, our senior loved ones may not be ready to admit such causes to us, or even to themselves. But we can gently look for clues and strive for better understanding.
For example, fear is frequently a root cause for resistance. Visiting a GP for an exam can be intimidating, especially when grappling with declining health. Denial is also a common factor, as finding the strength to face new challenges takes longer than is practical. Acknowledging that it’s time to hand over that driver’s licence, or face up to a new diagnosis, may require patience.
A kind approach can allow us to support our elders as they work through confronting any issues that are preventing them from moving forwards.
6. Recognising Loneliness
For human beings at any age, social interaction is vital for health and happiness. In contrast, social isolation is a sure-fire path to significant health issues, a loss of motivation, and reduced capacity to cope with life’s challenges.
If you suspect your senior loved one may be struggling with loneliness, or is showing signs of becoming withdrawn, then taking action to improve their social outlook can make all the difference. Why not have a chat about how they could enhance their social life?
A broad array of resources, from local clubs to classes, are likely available in your area. Building and nurturing positive relationships can be transformative at all stages of life.
7. Financial Worries Can Cause A Great Deal Of Anxiety
Anxiety might not be something that you associate with your seniors, but it is yet another gremlin that can creep in as we age. Concerns over what the future will bring and worry over financial commitments can all contribute to a growing sense of anxiety.
Broaching topics relating to future planning can feel uncomfortable with our parents. Health, mortality, and finance are subjects that often carry a holdall of emotion wherever they go. However, addressing any worries can lift a great deal of weight from everyone’s shoulders.
When sources of anxiety are laid to rest, your older loved one can enjoy greater confidence and acceptance.
8. Making An Emotional Investment
Just as our seniors may struggle with the shifts that go with ageing, it is important to recognise that we may also feel resistant to some extent. Facing tough new realities, slowing down, and practising patience can feel tricky at times.
However, when we look back on this phase of life, years from now, we will never regret the time we devoted to being there for our elders. In doing so, we may discover a great deal about them, and even learn a thing or two about ourselves.
In this sense, time spent sharing the journey of an ageing parent or loved one is a beautiful and fulfilling investment.
9. A Helping Hand
Planning for the future can work wonders when it comes to putting minds at ease across the generations.
If you would like to explore the types of support that Heritage Independent Living can provide for you and your loved one in the years ahead, contact our team today.
We provide tailored care solutions, facilitating just the right level of support for each unique client. Exploring your options with our expert advisors requires no commitment, and is sure to give you a greater sense of assurance.