Helping Aging Parents Without Patronizing Them

There is an issue with how we treat aging parents and their needs. There’s no denying that a lot of aging parents might need a little extra assistance as they get older, but often this help is given without really considering their viewpoint or their right to their own decisions. If you are thinking about helping your aging parent but you don’t want to cross any lines or hurt them by patronizing them, here are a few tips.

Let them take the lead

You can broach the topic about lifestyle changes for your parents and some concerns you might have, but you should make sure that you’re not taking the conversation in directions that they are uncomfortable with. You can broach the topic but then let it be for a while so that they have time to think about it, rather than just barrelling into it with a resolution in mind before they have had time to have any kind of consideration.

Talk about your concerns honestly but with consideration

Being considerate doesn’t mean that you have to ignore any of your concerns. If there are health changes that you have noticed, you should be able to bring them up. However, it’s best to phrase it as a question to see if they agree with you or have noticed any changes, rather than simply asserting that they are there. Furthermore, you can avoid taking control but make sure you’re there to help by asking to go to the doctor with them to help.

Don’t overestimate their need for care

Your parent might need some help, but that doesn’t mean that they have lost all independence. You should make sure that your concern doesn’t go too far. You might want to talk about home and care options, but you shouldn’t jump to the most drastic actions when there are choices like assisted living that are available. Be realistic with their needs and get their input on what you can do to meet them.

Consider safety nets

If your parent isn’t willing to make any major life changes at the moment, you should be willing to accept that. However, you can still talk to them about safety nets that might give you peace of mind without intruding on their life too much. This can include, for instance, medical alert systems that can help them stay safe in the event of a medical crisis.

Be respectful and ask permission

Most importantly, do not try and make any decisions without their approval and do not try to then retroactively get them to agree with choices that you have made. Parents can be stubborn and they might need gentle persuasion to take certain aspects of their wellbeing more seriously, but if they’re of sound mind, they are still the final decision-makers when it comes to their own lives.

Talk to your parents, as adults, about what they think their needs might be, and any issues that you might have witnessed. Don’t pressure them into any choices, but don’t hold back with your concerns, either.

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