Around 44 million adult children are helping to care for their parents, reports Parentgiving. In some cases, these same people are juggling the demands of their own families, which has led to the “sandwich generation.”
While it can be a struggle for adult children during this process of “parentification,” which refers to filling a parental role for an elderly mom or dad, it can also be difficult for the senior parent. If you’re trying to help your older parents maintain a sense of control over their lives while pitching in to help with their needs, check out the following tips:
Gather as Much Information as Possible
Fortunately, there are a lot of resources and tools that help the parentification process go as smoothly as possible. Start with your local Area Agency on Aging. Other resources can be found at the Alzheimer’s Association and at caregiver support groups in your area. These are great places if you’re looking for information, answers to your questions and people to help you feel less alone.
Communicate Openly and Honestly
One of the best ways to handle your parents’ desire for independence versus your concern for their physical and mental limitations is open communication. You must be kind, yet frank, about your concerns and the older parents should accept that there are some limitations in place and to not be ashamed to ask for help. The main goal of this process is to help older moms and dads successfully navigate the many changes that come with advanced age. This way, your elderly parents do not feel like they have lost all of their independence. They can still do as much as possible for themselves and they can make important and day-to-day decisions about their care with your help.
Keep an Eye on Nutrition
It’s not uncommon for seniors to lose weight, and it can be alarming to notice that mom or dad seem much thinner. While it is true that energy needs decrease with age and people tend to be less active, elderly people have an increase in their nutritional needs. Encourage your older parents to take high-quality supplements from a reputable company like Amway to fill in any gaps in their diet. Amway also sells a water purifier that does not remove beneficial minerals, like calcium and magnesium, from the water. Knowing that your elderly folks are getting enough nutrition throughout the day sets your mind at ease. And hopefully it also helps them feel more alert and energetic.
Help but Don’t Take Over
You must remember that aging parents often feel powerless, which can damage their self-respect. As you start to navigate the world of parentification, reassure your elderly parents that they will always be your mom and dad, no matter what happens. You might drive them to the store and help them schedule their doctor’s appointments, but you will never think of them any differently.