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How to Develop a Positive Relationship With Your Aging Parents

Updated: Nov 9, 2023


Alt-tag: a younger and an older woman looking at a phone in the park

Building and maintaining a positive relationship with your aging parents is a rewarding and essential part of life. As our parents grow older, it becomes increasingly important to provide them with emotional support, care, and companionship. Developing a strong and loving connection can significantly enhance their overall well-being and ensure their happiness during their golden years.


Communication—The Key to a Positive Relationship With Your Aging Parents


Open and effective communication is the foundation of any healthy relationship, and it is particularly crucial for aging parents. Here are some communication tips to enhance your connection.


Active Listening


Active listening involves more than just hearing the words spoken by your parents. It requires showing genuine curiosity and empathy toward their thoughts and feelings. You create an environment that fosters deep and meaningful conversations by maintaining consistent eye contact, asking thoughtful, open-ended questions, and consciously avoiding distractions.


Empathy and Understanding


Empathy and understanding allow you to connect on a deeper level. By putting yourself in their shoes, you can better grasp the challenges they face, the emotions they experience, and the changes they undergo. This understanding will enable you to respond with compassion, patience, and genuine empathy, fostering a stronger and more meaningful connection.


Patience and Flexibility

Aging can bring physical and cognitive changes that may affect communication. Be patient, understanding, and flexible, adjusting to their pace and finding alternative means of communication if necessary. Understand that their communication abilities may be impacted by physical and cognitive changes, and be patient in allowing them the time they need to express themselves. Additionally, if traditional forms of communication become challenging, explore alternative means such as using visual aids, writing notes, or utilizing technology to facilitate understanding and maintain a strong connection.


Quality Time and Shared Activities


Spending quality time is a powerful way to foster a positive relationship with your aging parents. Here are some ideas to create meaningful moments together.


Regular Visits and Outings

Set aside dedicated time to visit your parents and engage in activities they enjoy. Regular visits and outings provide opportunities to create cherished memories and strengthen the bond. Whether taking a stroll in the park, spending time with their grandkids, or savoring a home-cooked meal, these shared experiences foster a sense of connection, happiness, and nostalgia that will be treasured for years to come.


Shared Hobbies and Interests

Discover common interests and hobbies you can enjoy together. Shared hobbies and interests provide a wonderful platform for bonding and creating lasting memories with your parents. Engaging in activities like gardening can foster a sense of collaboration and accomplishment as you nurture plants together, while cooking allows for shared creativity and the joy of savoring delicious meals. Watching movies can spark conversations and create shared experiences that deepen your connection as you discuss the plot, characters, and themes that resonate with both of you.


Technology and Virtual Connections

If distance or circumstances prevent frequent in-person visits, utilize technology to bridge the gap. Take advantage of video calls to see and hear each other, creating a sense of presence even from afar. Schedule regular video calls to stay connected and engage in virtual activities like playing online games or watching movies simultaneously. In addition to that, explore the realm of virtual activities together, such as playing online games or watching movies simultaneously, fostering a shared experience and strengthening your bond.


Providing Support and Care


As your parents age, they may require additional support and care. Here's how you can provide assistance while preserving their independence and dignity.


Respect their Autonomy

Recognize that your parents are individuals with their own preferences and choices. Respect their autonomy by actively seeking their input and considering their desires when making decisions. Encourage open discussions about their healthcare options, living arrangements, and daily routines, ensuring they feel valued and involved in shaping their own lives. By fostering a sense of empowerment and honoring their independence, you can strengthen the trust and mutual respect within your relationship.


Assist with Practical Matters

To maintain a positive relationship with your aging parents, offer help with tasks that may become challenging for them, such as managing finances, organizing paperwork, or scheduling medical appointments. Respect their boundaries while providing support, understanding that they may still want to maintain a sense of independence. By offering assistance without taking over, you can empower them to maintain control over their lives while ensuring they have the support they need to navigate these practical matters with ease.


Seek Professional Assistance

If your parents require specialized care or assistance beyond your capabilities, consider seeking professional help. Seeking professional assistance can alleviate the burden of caregiving and ensure they receive the specialized care they need. Home healthcare services offer trained professionals who can provide medical support, assist with daily tasks, and monitor their overall well-being.


In addition to that, assisted living facilities provide a supportive environment where they can receive round-the-clock care and engage in social activities. If it comes to that, help your parents relocate and show them you will still be there for them, regardless of the professional help. Caregiver support groups offer a valuable network of individuals who understand the challenges you face and can provide guidance, advice, and emotional support throughout your caregiving journey. Remember, reaching out for professional help is not a sign of weakness but rather a responsible decision prioritizing your parents' health and well-being.


Emotional Support and Well-being


Supporting your parents' emotional well-being is equally important for maintaining a positive relationship. Consider the following approaches:

  • Show Affection and Appreciation—Express love and appreciation regularly. Small gestures like hugs, compliments, or simple "thank you" can go a long way in boosting their spirits and strengthening your bond.

  • Encourage Independence and Personal Growth—Support your parents' interests, hobbies, and personal goals. Encourage them to pursue new experiences, take up hobbies, or engage in social activities that provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment.

  • Emotional Availability—Be emotionally present and available. Create a safe space for them to share their worries, fears, and joys. Offer comfort, reassurance, and a listening ear when they need it most.


Conclusion


Developing a positive relationship with your aging parents requires time, effort, and understanding. You can create a deep and meaningful connection by fostering open communication, spending quality time, providing support, and nurturing their emotional well-being. Every parent-child relationship is unique, so adapt these strategies to suit your specific situation. By investing in your relationship, you will not only bring joy and fulfillment to their lives but also strengthen the bonds of love within your family.

 

This is a guest post written for Dr. Jordan Harris.

Dr. Jordan Harris is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists who works in the Northwest Arkansas area, servicing Rogers, Springdale and Fayetteville. With over 10 years of experience, he's worked in various fields from addictions, to kids, to psychiatric wards. Currently his specialty is working with couples and marriages to rebuild connection, deepen intimacy, and strengthen communication.




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