No matter how much or little we think we know about life, one thing is for sure: things change. Marriage, divorce, moving, illness, kids, career changes, death – life is constantly changing, and it can often feel like a struggle to keep up with it.
Feeling the burden of changing times may ring true for your parents too. While your relationship may have traditionally meant that they supported you through life’s transitions, it may be time for the tables to turn.
Age can bring with it a lot of significant changes. These can be big life events such as dealing with an empty nest, handling the death of a partner and downsizing. They can also be things like reduced mobility or change of stamina or energy level.
Navigating these events is complex, and while having the support of children is meaningful, it can be equally challenging to navigate the changing dynamics of the parent-child relationship. It probably won’t be easy, but there are plenty of strategies for offering support and care to your parents.
Try Different Strategies
There’s no simple or straightforward way to get your parents to accept help. It’s often a process that takes time and a lot of patience. Depending on your relationship with your parents and how you feel they will react, you can try to have an open discussion about the challenges they’re facing and the help they need.
Alternatively, you can try small encouragements to ease them into accepting help. If they’re having trouble managing their home, perhaps offer to take care of the yard or hire a landscaper or snow shoveller.
If they’re having issues with clutter or considering a move or downsize, suggest a home organizing and downsizing service like NEATSPACES that has experience with seniors and knows how to handle the process delicately and supportively.
When we see our parents struggling, our instinct can be to rush over and offer help. But it can be a challenge for any adult to admit they need help. Many people feel that if they ask for or accept help, it’s an admission of weakness, even if they don’t feel the same when someone else asks them for help.
Many adults pride themselves on their self-sufficiency, and it can be difficult to let that go. While it’s frustrating to watch them struggle and resist your offers of help, it’s essential to understand where that sense of pride and resistance to help is coming from. Ask yourself how you would feel if the situation was reversed, and remember to be patient as you navigate this new reality with them.
Remember to Take Care of Yourself
Worrying about your parents is extremely taxing. It might be counterintuitive, but taking care of yourself is essential if you’re going to be effective in helping your parents. Ensuring you carve out time to take care of your physical and mental health and do something you enjoy might feel selfish, but if you’re going to take care of others, you need to take care of yourself. It will help you to be a stronger support to your parents.
Navigating a changing relationship with our parents is never going to be easy. But with some patience and persistence, you can be the supportive and helping hand your parents need.