Aging parents are a part of life, after all we all get older. The difficult thing about getting older is that things seem to start wearing out. All of us will reach a point where we can’t do what we used to, even to the point where we cannot take care of ourselves as we need to.
Watching a parent age can be very difficult but nothing is more difficult than the time in which you have to make the transition of stepping in to help your parent as they age.
I am in the that phase of life right now. My dad is 83 and he has to have 24-hour care and companionship due to Alzheimer’s Disease. Even if we were not dealing with this divesting disease, he would be reaching a time in life where he would need more help taking care of this home or even his health.
Here are 3 ways to gracefully handle this new phase of life:
Realize you are not experiencing a role reversal.
Many people refer to this time in life as a role reversal, you become the parent and your parent becomes the child. That is not true. You parent is still your parent and always be. They are just aging and are not able to do all the things they used to do for themselves.
As I have watched my dad’s disease progress I have been sure to keep our roles in the forefront of my mind. He is my dad in need of my help not a child. This has helped me stay present in the moment. Instead of trying to reteach something or reacting to a mistake he makes over and over again in frustration. I try to just take a deep breath and remind myself he can’t help it.
It can be divesting to your parent to find themselves in a place where they can’t do all the things they used to do so easily.
How you treat them will make all the difference in the world. No adult wants to be treated like a child! Though you might be doing things for your parent that you do for your children please remember this is the person who changed your diaper, taught you to walk and loved you through the teenage years. They are still your parent!
Always show honor to your parent.
Exodus 20:12 tells us to “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.”
There is no expiration date on this command.
Though this time of transition is difficult always keep in mind you are to treat them with honor. There are so many changes happening in their life when you keep honor and respect as a part of your relationship it will make the changes easier to deal with.
As with all people, we need to treat our parents the same way we want to be treated.
As my family has faced the many changes brought about with age and disease I have always strived to keep the golden rule in mind. Someday I will be the one needing help. How would I want to be treated?
How would you feel if you were no longer allowed to drive and expected to give up your favorite activities? Look for other options. It might be time for your parent to stop driving but finding alternative transportation will be crucial to keeping them healthy.
My dad has always been very physically fit and he loves sports so when we reached the stage in his disease that the doctor said we needed to take away the keys I looked high and low to find someone to take over the part he could no longer do, drive.
He still loved participating in playing volleyball 3 times per week and work outing at the gym the other 3 days. He was able to continue playing volleyball for 3 more years and he still lifts weights at the gym 3 times per week. Needing more help in life meant he had to give up the keys but not the activities he loves so much.
Losing independence is difficult, treating your parent with honor will make it easier to accept.
Appreciate them for who they are right now as well as who they have been to you your whole life.
We hear it over and over again but there is a lot of truth in the statement, stay in the moment. Pooh has some wisdom to share in around this:
“What day is it?”
It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
My favorite day,” said Pooh.”
― A.A. Milne
Staying in the moment with your parent can really help you emotionally deal with how much life has changed for you and your parent. Make each day together a favorite day.
We all love to have fun. No matter our age laughter is good medicine for the soul. Challenge yourself to find ways to have fun together.
As Dad became more limited in the things he could do we searched for other things he had enjoyed in the past. I remembered playing ping pong with him when I was little so we gave it a try. He loved it and was still really good. Soon we replace the formal living room with a ping pong table. It has been the source of tons of fun for us, as well as for the others caring for him.
All of us enjoy things we are good at much more than something that is a struggle. Keep searching to find the things that still bring joy to your parent, it will create the opportunity for new good memories.
Appreciating them in the moment will help you cherish the time you spend with them now as you know they will not always be here. Your time and support will mean more to your parent than you can imagine.
I haven’t experienced these things Rayna, but it is really good to know that it’s not a “role reversal” and why. Thank you for shedding light on this!
I’m glad you found this post helpful Mary Lou! Thanks for stopping by!
Wow – this is great advice. Thanks for being willing to share your wisdom while you are on this journey. It’s very helpful.
Thanks Kim! Watching our parents age is a difficult part of life, I’m glad you found my tips helpful!
I agree whole heartly. When my dad was hada stoke my mom treated him as a child and that is wrong. My mom passed from cancer 2 1/2 years ago. I helped my sister care for my mom. We always cared for her with respect.
Thanks Mary, I’m sorry to hear about your mom and dad. I appreciate you visiting my blog! Have a great day!
Rayna, what a great article on Three Ways to Help Your Parents as they age. I have been in this transition stage for awhile now. And it just resonated a yes and amen with my heart. I am “intentional” about spending a day a week with my Mom since my Dad went home to be with the Lord. And I also am “intentional” about remembering and doing what my Dad had asked us to do as a family before he went home to be with the Lord. I keep the three things he asked of us in front of me and they help steer me in the decisions I make when they pertain to our family. I purposely still honor my Dad even though he is no longer with us. In these ways, I feel I am honoring God as I honor my parents. Thank you so much for sharing this. We need so much to be an influence in our culture today that teaches us how to cultivate the character of honor towards God, our parents, those in authority, and towards one another. God bless you!
Thanks so much Marlene for sharing how you are honoring your parents! I totally agree we have to be trend setters in our culture today! Blessings, Rayna
I’m to this point, Rayna, and it’s difficult! Yet another phase of life that we had no preparation for.
So true, Carl. I pray you are able to find a way to navigate this phase of life well!
Rayna – I can relate as my parents are 87 and 86, and a father-in-law widower who is 87. Thank you for sharing this sound, grace-filled advice. Honoring our father and mother, practicing the ‘Golden Rule’, and remembering to enjoy them while they are still with us, all are simple, powerful truths. After all, they originated from our Abba Father ♥ Blessings!
Thanks, Nancy! Funny how when God tells us how to behave it applies in all situations 🙂
This is so good. I have never liked the reference of “role reversal” and I like how you cleared that up. I am still a few years away from this time but it is possible there will be illness with one of them. I am saving this blog for future reference. Thank you for sharing.
Thanks Carrie, I’m so glad you found it helpful!