Nowadays, everyone is talking about bullying and how to stop it. We’re now a zero tolerance society when it comes to bullying, and a rough and tough ten-year-old can no longer get away with teasing and tormenting his classmates. But perhaps there’s some other, less apparent sort of bullying occurring – that of trying to play the parent to our aging parents, thus overstepping some unwritten boundaries. It shouldn’t matter that our parents’ choices may be different than ours, because as adult individuals, we should respect their choices as much as is safely possible.
There’s a fine line between the helpfulness required in providing care for older adults, and trying to take over for them. And often, unsolved issues from childhood resurface – and feelings of resentment and bitterness add themselves to the mix, possibly affecting an adult child’s caretaking decisions, and may lead to a form of elder abuse or bullying.
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.
- Open a discussion with small changes to implement which may be less irritable to seniors, such as removing throw rugs, adding no-slip strips to the bathtub, and moving cords away from walkways.
- Always be mindful of the senior’s wishes, and respect those as much as possible without compromising safety. It is important to remember to ask for your parent’s input about decisions without talking down to him or her.
- Put yourself in the older adult’s shoes. How would you feel in a similar circumstance, and how would you want to be treated?
- It is important to remember, if there are safety or health concerns, don’t hesitate to contact a social worker or the senior’s physician for help.
And keep in mind that typically, serious discussions such as these are often better received in the presence of a trusted healthcare professional or religious clergy member or through an objective third party. Need more tips for easing tough discussions with seniors and avoiding potential elder abuse? Contact the Orange County home care experts at CareWorks Health Services at (949) 859-4700 for trusted, professional assistance in keeping your elderly loved ones safe, while allowing them to remain as independent as possible where they’re most comfortable – at home.