Feeling safe, protected and cared for is so wonderful. Mothers and fathers thrive on ensuring their children are enveloped in the comfort of knowing their needs will be satisfied, providing the safety net that allows them the self-confidence to explore the world around them. However there comes a stage in all children’s lives when the yearning for freedom exceeds the benefit of protection, and they have to discover what it means to stumble, fall and get up again on their own.
These protective instincts typically trigger once more for adult children towards senior moms and dads. We would like to decrease risks for them, to ensure that they’re safe from harm. Yet at the same time, it’s all too easy to fall into a pattern of overprotectiveness if we’re not really careful, which can lead to feelings of anger and resentment on the part of the elderly parents.
As stated by professor of human development and family studies at Pennsylvania State University Steven Zarit, “One of the scariest things to people as they age is that they don’t feel in control anymore. So if you tell your dad not to go out and shovel snow, you assume that he’ll listen. It’s the sensible thing. But his response will be to go out and shovel away … It’s a way of holding on to a life that seems to be slipping back.”
Research recently explored the effect of stubbornness in older adults’ relationships with their adult children. Although the elders were less inclined to rate themselves as appearing stubborn, their younger loved ones more often observed stubbornness being an issue. The important thing for adult children is in understanding their senior parents’ basis for digging in their heels to hold onto their independence and autonomy, and to stay away from quarrelling and producing a mindset of defensiveness. Clear, open and truthful communication among both parties can go a long way towards smoothing the waters and making certain every person is listened to and fully understood.
So what exactly is the best way to care for our elderly family members without trying to control them? A large dosage of patience, respect and empathy can go far. Putting yourself within the older adult’s shoes and knowing the desire for autonomy lets adult children step back, as opposed to stepping in. Give the additional time an older adult needs to accomplish a task, rather than doing it for the individual. Consistently look for opportunities to show the senior you appreciate his or her suggestions and guidance. For further tips on delivering Fort Lauderdale home care that doesn’t cross the line, contact Responsive Home Care.
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