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.


7 Spring Cleaning Tips for Writers

SpringCleaning_tnsIt’s officially springtime on the calendar. Our thoughts often turn to spring-cleaning our houses – getting rid of the extra layers of dust and grime that have accumulated over the long winter. Perhaps it’s time to think about doing some spring-cleaning in our writing lives too. Here are seven areas I’m thinking about:

  1. Walk with God – If you’re a writer who’s a Christian, this should always be your first priority. Are you spending time with God every day? Are you bringing your goals and plans to Him for approval OR are you coming to Him and asking Him to show you the plans He has for your writing? Do you talk to God throughout each day? It’s easy for our lives to get so clogged with the grime of busyness that we don’t cultivate a close walk with God.
  2. windowclean_tnsMission Statement – Do you have a mission statement for your writing? If not, think about what you want to accomplish with your writing. If you do have a mission statement, when was the last time you revised it? Does it still fit? Perhaps it only needs a few tweaks, or maybe you need to totally rewrite it. Mission Statements help us see more clearly where we’re headed. Work at getting the dust and streaks off your writing window so that your vision is clear.
  3. Writing Goals – I usually review my writing goals around New Year’s. A yearly review is great, but perhaps it’s time to take a fresh look at your goals and update them as well. Do your goals and mission statement fit each other? Perhaps you overloaded yourself. Now’s the time to get rid of excess weight and refine your goals before you burn out.
  4. Professional Development – Toning and honing those writing muscles is always a good idea. Evaluate your skills and figure out what you want to improve. Assess your time and finances as well. Then figure out what professional development you will take part in this year: writing conferences, online courses, workshops, webinars, etc. If you need help figuring out which ones to tackle, ask your writing friends for their recommendations.
  5. Work Area – Clutter robs us of energy. Does your work area need a makeover? If so, schedule a desk clean up into your calendar. Think about what frustrates you and how you can make improvements. Which resource books do you need close at hand while you write? What pictures or posters will help motivate you when you’re struggling with a deadline? Do you need a place to file paper copies of articles, research notes, character sketches, etc.? Or will a digital version work for you? What distracts you while you’re writing? Clear away as many of those distractions as possible.
  6. Computer – Are you happy with the filing system you’re using on your computer? Are your documents easy to locate? Maybe you need to reorganize and categorize. What about your inbox? Is it full to overflowing? If you’re like me, you receive hundreds of e-mails every day. Schedule time into your calendar to sort through your e-mails. Save important information into a Word Document, delete all the junk mail, empty the trash, and respond to e-mails that have been sitting for a while.
  7. Personal Relationships – Unresolved issues in our personal relationships will clog our writing and destroy our health. In your quiet time, ask God to show you the relationships that need a tune-up. Ephesians 4:28-32 tells us to throw out the garbage in our lives:

“Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

So how about it? Are you ready to get started with the spring cleaning?