Right now, one of the largest generations in US history is entering its golden years. The Baby Boomers are becoming senior citizens. It’s not easy for a generation characterized by youth and innovation to accept this change. Luckily, there are several key ways their children and caregivers help them feel better about the aging process.
In some ways, caring for an elderly parent is a lot like watching a child grow up. For example, as children mature into teenagers, they start to become frustrated. They may yearn for more freedoms and responsibilities, even as their parents and teachers urge caution. Elderly people struggle with the change in their level of responsibility, too. In their case, it can be even harder than dealing with a teen. Because for elders, they’re watching their independence slip away.
Caregivers and children should approach aging Boomers with respect and love. That role reversal is hard on children, but it’s incredibly difficult for elderly parents, too. They can go from feeling like respected authorities to needy dependents. They know that something is changing, too, and it’s not easy on them, either. Look for ways to help parents feel competent and necessary. Elderly parents feel just like their children did as teens. They don’t want to be nagged, hassled or babied.
One way to maintain or even build a meaningful relationship with an aging parent is via healthy communication. That means listening actively, rather than just waiting for an opening to speak. As they age, people may become more anxious about little things. For example, with few commitments, parents may worry excessively about getting to a doctor’s appointment on time. These small things shouldn’t be dismissed. It’s not just about one appointment. As they age, older people need to feel heard and reassured that everything will be okay. They need to know their needs will still be met, even as they lose some independence.
Finally, children and caregivers must find a way to maintain some space and time for themselves. There’s nothing wrong with having boundaries. In fact, setting boundaries is key to having a relationship that remains healthy instead of becoming codependent. Caregivers must remember to recharge their batteries and look after themselves, in addition to their elders.