Haims: A gentle approach to helping aging parents | VailDaily.com

Haims: A gentle approach to helping aging parents

Very few people relish the idea of getting older. The challenges of aging we all will deal with may sometimes be difficult. Our bodies become less physically able to handle activities we once never even gave a second thought to performing. Our minds seem to slow down; more and more of our friends and colleagues become seriously ill and/or pass away; and for most of us, watching those we love lose their ability to manage daily activities that used to be very mundane can be heart-wrenching.

It is so hard to see our parent’s and loved ones age. Those once invincible, ageless parents and loved ones of ours will at some time become more dependent on their adult children and friends. Yet there are a few simple ideas, that if acted upon, can make all the difference in the world when it comes to coping with the aging process.

Often, we tend to make our lives much more complicated than they need to be. Below are some suggestions to move forward in life with as little pain as possible:

  • Don’t fret over things you have no control over. People get sick and age — it is part of the life process. Instead of beating yourself up every day about how old your loved ones are getting, embrace the life they’ve lived and encourage them to be as active as possible while they are still with us.
  • Be involved in your parents’ and loved ones’ lives. Do things for your parents. Offering to assist your parents with even the most routine of tasks may provide a great opportunity to reconnect with each other. Don’t underestimate the power of helping someone do something they can no longer do for themselves.
  • Forgive yourself and your loved ones for all those things that were never meant to be said or, the times you put your needs before their needs and felt guilty about it.
  • Say that you love someone — don’t just assume they know how you feel. While it may sound cliche, you never know how much more time you may have the opportunity to say this.
  • Remember the old times and laugh out loud about silly things you did in the course of your life.
  • Make sure you make every effort to see and visit your loved ones and, if any, bring your children with you. If there are no children, consider arranging to bring together their friends. Socialization and its importance too often diminish as we age.
  • Be patient and don’t be a noodge. If you have kids, you may have already done this step, yet I found that the patience we need for our parents is different than that which our kids require. Understand that tasks once considered rudimentary may not be any longer. Work on it, it’s important.
  • Develop a level of understanding of what your parents are experiencing — this is yet another way our parents teach us about life. The aging process is not just about those who are aging, but it is about those still growing. In this life, you never stop being a teacher or a parent. You are always teaching your kids (and others) how best to deal with what will eventually occur in their lives. Your parents, in one form or another, are still teaching you about what you will experience in your life. Listen and learn.
  • Understand that you will always miss your parents when they are gone. So, make the time now to develop as strong a relationship as possible. This relationship will be the basis for your memories of them when they have gone.

Coping with the aging of our parents and loved ones is a life lesson — one that will be taught to us whether we want to learn it or not. So embrace the lesson. Make whatever time you have left with your parents and loved ones as positive as possible. Laugh, remember, cry, but above all, show them that you love them. It is clearly the greatest gift we have to give each other. Life is all about compassion and relationships!

Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. He is an advocate for our elderly and available to answer questions. His contact information is VisitingAngels.com/comtns and 970-328-5526.

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