Tips for Supporting Aging Parents

Note: This is a companion post to Spending Time with My Dad, which is on the Beautiful Life blog today. 

The river of life presents all of us with a variety of challenges and celebrations. Maneuvering through the rapids of aging is demanding for most families. This is a time fraught with changes in health, living arrangements, and control over decision-making. Today I’d like to share some tips I’m learning and still trying to put into practice as I try to support my aging parents.

Listen

It’s all to easy for me to jump to conclusions, share unwanted opinions, and try to take over. Instead, I’m trying to learn to listen – not only to the words that are spoken, but to the reasons and feelings behind those words. If I want to support my parents, I need to know where they are coming from and what their wishes are. They have enough to deal with, without added stress from me.

Trust God

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Hebrews 13:8

God is still the same, no matter what else may change. I can find my security in Him, no matter what I’m dealing with. God loves my parents more than I ever could. I can trust God to take care of them.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:5

Making decisions can be difficult, but God will guide and give wisdom if we ask.

Start discussing transitions early

The first time we as children discussed moving our parents out of their home, both parents were both adamant they were staying in their home until they died. Nobody argued with them. Instead we just presented information, stated we wanted to support them, and listened. A few years later, our parents told us they were moving – a decision they made on their own.

Start family meetings

If you don’t have family meetings already, start having them. These meetings may look different for families. Some may feel more comfortable playing a game or doing some type of activity while they talk. Others will work better if everyone is seated around the living room ready to talk. We decided not to have extraneous activity, but rather to sit and talk, with one person taking minutes. Any member of the family is able to add items to the agenda. At our family meetings we have discussed everything from a major move to just getting a health update.

Have an open mind

It’s easy to act out of emotions like fear. It’s also easy to see things only from our own perspective. As caregivers, we need to learn to approach things from different perspectives, or at least be open to hearing other perspectives BEFORE we make decisions. We should always try to put ourselves into other people’s shoes, including our parent’s. As children, we may have unresolved conflicts with our parents which affect our decision making. 

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18

Do you have other tips to share? I’d love to hear your thoughts.