Caring for senior loved ones can be a test of patience. The physical, emotional, financial, and social changes that caregiving can bring about may bring about some issues within the family.
These changes can cause some tension in your family dynamic, and it wouldn’t be surprising. However, you need to make an effort to avoid friction and also learn how to be more understanding.
In order to ensure that you maintain a healthy and happy relationship with your parent or relative, you have to make an effort to communicate better.
How can you engage with your senior loved one to make every interaction productive? Here are a few tips.
Be patient and compassionate
Dealing with an aging relative can be frustrating. Besides physical challenges, you also have to deal with limited movements, forgetfulness, and even stubbornness, among others. It’s important to exercise patience all the time.
What should you do if you find it hard to be patient with your senior loved one? Just start imagining yourselves in their shoes. The way they behave can have causes that only old age can bring. By thinking about what they are going through, you will understand their situation, and you can be more compassionate.
There will always come a time, though, that you feel your patience running thin. When this happens, simply step out and take time away from your senior loved one for a while until you’re calmer.
Always ask and listen
As a caregiver, it can be tempting to just dictate what your senior loved one should do on a daily basis. Even if you mean well, you’re not in control of every aspect of their life, so don’t order them around.
Instead, base your actions on what they tell you. Start by asking them about what they want to do or have, or how they like certain things in their room or home. Never assume that they will need what you’ll give them, or that they’ll enjoy everything you make them eat or do.
By asking and listening to what they want, you’ll maintain a level of respect that shows them you put their needs first. By offering choices and letting them decide, you give them the independence that they might feel bad about losing in old age.
Your senior loved one might not be hard of hearing now, but they will be eventually. It’s important that you learn how to speak distinctly so that they can understand you better.
Make sure you modulate your voice in such a way that it’s loud, but not too loud that they will think you’re shouting. Also, slow down as you speak, so that they can catch everything you’re saying.
It will also help if you enunciate clearly, and keep your sentences short and as simple as possible. Just focus on one topic at a time to allow them to catch your drift.
Choose your battles
Having to look out for your aging relative’s well-being can be draining. You might feel like you have to address everything all at once. You have to help them with a lot of different things, and you don’t know what to prioritize.
Don’t let your frustration get the best of you. Always remember that even though it’s hard for you, it’s definitely a lot harder for your senior loved one. Most of the time, it’s best to just stick to one thing at a time.
What matters is you’re there for your senior loved one. Whether they have mobility issues or are just lonely and forgetful, try your best to help them in every way you can, and you’ll all be just fine.
Lighten things up
Your senior loved one might feel lonelier and needier than you might think. Making them laugh will definitely lift up their spirit more than you can imagine.
Even if it’s challenging to take care of an aging parent or relative, you always have to hang on to laughter. It will help you deal with your situation better as well. It’s not easy being a caregiver, so find something to smile about every chance you get.
Learn to take things a little less seriously. After all, laughter is the best medicine. Finding humor in your day-to-day life can make you and your senior loved one’s lives much easier.