Regardless if you’re a caregiver or not, your parents are just that – your parents. There are boundaries there when it comes down to things you should and should not say. Some adult children struggle with this. There are some who are more emotional than others and take their aging parents words or actions personally. Many elderly people suffer with some form of dementia, be it mild or more severe—and this interferes with mood and personality. However, if you have a parent who was always rather harsh and outright obnoxious at times, this type of personality is magnified in old age. Many caregivers struggle with this very circumstance. The best advice is to try and steer away from those things that create bad behavior and miscommunication.
Let’s list those 5 things you should try to avoid saying to your elderly parents now!
How to Avoid Miscommunication and Keep Your Cool as a Caregiver of an Aging Parent
It’s hard, no doubt about it. Remember, words can be barbs, and if you become too emotional you can say something you wish you wouldn’t have. Though aging parents can really push an adult child’s buttons—the best thing to do is to let things slide. The goal is to improve their quality of life; not create drama you can’t squelch. Remember, even if you hold your tongue you might still feel some exasperation, but maintain your composure! You don’t want to hurt feelings and cause harm that can’t be erased. So, let’s examine what you should and shouldn’t say right now.
- Why Can’t You Remember That? Aging parents naturally become forgetful, and being mean or hasty with them just isn’t right. It might be difficult to have to repeat the same question 5 times in an hour, but just bite your tongue and work with your elderly loved one. Try doing something like post it notes so that they will remember what it was you asked, or need them to do. This will minimize the risk of saying something out of the way.
- Why Do You Have to Be So Hateful? For most elderly people, pain, mental decline, worry and fear can have a negative impact. They might say somewhat short things, or their actions might come across as mean, but the reality is that they are just scared and hurting. Caregivers often feel forgotten about or uncared for when their loved one behaves so mean. Try to overlook it and keep things positive. It can be difficult to do, but if you’re going to keep your sanity you simply have to hold your tongue.
- Why Aren’t You Listening? You can get frustrated when trying to talk to your elderly parent, especially if they have a hearing problem. However, getting upset and allowing your emotions to get the best of you can be very hurtful. Don’t ask your parent why they’re not listening. Instead be constructive and let them know you were talking about something important and want to make sure they’re following you.
- It’s Your Fault This is Happening! Try not to blame your elderly parent for outlandish attitudes or behaviors. We’ve discussed this before. Often older people aren’t aware they are being obnoxious or sarcastic. You should try and calm the situation by staying positive yourself.
- Why is the House so Messy? Senility does many things to an individual, and bringing attention to a mess, or clutter is wrong. Tell your elderly parent everything is fine and you understand they’ve been doing the best they could. This will ensure you don’t start an argument, or leave resentful feelings either.
No matter what, the goal of being a caregiver for a parent is to ensure they feel safe and comfortable with someone they know. Sometimes, the caregiver has to just disregard words and actions of a parent. In the end, you’ll be glad you stayed positive during difficult situations. This is one of the hardest, most draining positions in the world; so do make sure you make time for yourself!