The following situations and reactions are not exclusive to aging parents. Where older people are involved, however, the consequences are different. They can significantly change parents’ lives. Even in the best of relationships, most parents won’t tell us–
1. —THEY’VE FALLEN.
Why? Pride: A remarkable 88-year-old mother fell and bounced back to normal many times without anyone’s knowing (or if they knew, they’d been sworn to secrecy) until she broke her 88-year-old hip. Then her devoted daughter found out. It turns out a simple corrective device, placed in her mother’s shoes, was all that was needed to solve the balance problem that caused the falls in the first place. But the solution came after enduring surgery and rehabilitation for her hip. While she’s still a spunky and amazing 88-year-old, it did “take her down a notch,” said her daughter.
Why? Fear of being forced to give up their home and go someplace where adult children think falls are less likely—be it moving from a home with stairs to a one-floor apartment or to independent or assisted living, or coming to live with their children (granted, much less likely today than it was in previous generations).
2. —THEY’VE HAD A DRIVING INCIDENT.
Why? Fear–loss of independence. They’ll be forced to stop driving….not necessarily if medical issues that prevent driving are ruled out and families make use of resources to evaluate older people’s driving, which may enable them to drive longer: http://www.usaaedfoundation.org/ Click “health and safety” for The Effects of Aging on Driving Skills. Also AAA’s brochure: http://www.aaafoundation.org. Click “products,” “free,” and scroll down for brochures that resonate ie. The Older and Wiser Driver and Drivers 65 Plus.
If safe-driving parents can legitimately continue to drive (possibly aided by free programs like CarFit), it’s easier and happier for everyone. If parents are no longer qualified to drive, it’s based on objective evidence.
3. —THEIR PROBLEMS/CONCERNS.
Why? They still feel protective towards their children, don’t want to burden them, especially if the children have their own problems to deal with.
Why? They don’t want to chance being told what to do; they want someone to listen– someone who they know cares–to bounce ideas off of.
4. —CERTAIN INTERACTIONS THEY KNOW COULD BE JUDGMENTAL.
Why? No one wants a lecture or being told what to do, be they children, young adults or old adults. One independent-living, 80-something-year old father said several years ago: “I told my daughter I was going to the movie with a friend and immediately was told it wasn’t wise because of swine flu. Come on. Children and people with certain conditions are most at risk and I’m neither.” Another 80-year-old sums up the feelings of many when she confidently says “I still think I can make my own decisions.”
As we try to help parents age well, it’s food for thought.
Check out “Newsworthy” (right sidebar). Links to timely information and research from top universities and respected professionals, plus practical information–to help parents age well.