There will come a time in our lives when our memory begins to fail, our eyesight won’t be as keen as it once was, our agility decreases, and trust me, it won’t be pretty. It won’t be pleasant either, and the very last thing we need is for it to be pointed out to us. We know what’s going on. We are getting older.
We have all, at one time or other, found ourselves in a room and we have forgotten why we entered the rom in the first place. How does that feel? We joke about having those occasional ‘senior moments’. But for seniors, it is real, and these things begin to occur with greater frequency as they age. Getting old is a blessing and we are privileged to reach an age where these occurrences happen with greater frequency. That is real!
Bouts of short-term memory loss is not necessarily a sign of dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, either. So, don’t prepare to send your parent to a senior facility or nursing home. In fact, in some cultures, the option to do so is a no-brainer. It just isn’t done. The African-American community is one in which, for the most part, it is considered disrespectful and unthinkable. Respect for older family members is demonstrated best when decisions are made, instead, to move aging parents into our own homes. They live with us, the adult children. That’s respect, and allows our parent[s] a continued sense of independence while we are giving loving care in their later years.
But, before we reach that decision, there are some considerations to be given to our aging parents and they must be that we have the mindful awareness of how our parents feel about what they may be experiencing. We know that our own senior moments are basically temporary and happen infrequently. Our parents will go through this too, and with more frequency than they let on. So, take care to avoid being insensitive. Be patient and empathize. Remember that it was they who cared for us before we could care for ourselves. It was they who once changed our diapers. They put up with our nonsense and endured all of the angst and bullshit from us in our adolescent years. We know this now-for there has to be countless memories of times when we gave our parents pure hell![If we are honest with ourselves and each other.]
Our parents guided us through our early developmental years, and for the most part, it was without casting ‘blame’, throwing insults, or deciding that our care was too much for them to bear. They didn’t decide that their own personal lives were more important to them than we were. They didn’t let us flounder or leave us out there alone to navigate life until they felt we were prepared. They had our safety and concern on their minds at all times.
They worried when we were away from them. They expected us to take heed to their words out of their concern. My own mother told me that when she was growing up and began to date, her parents always gave her money to call home if ever she needed help. It was a time when everyone wore penny loafers. On those shoes was a slot with room for a penny, nickel or dime to be placed. That was for an emergency phone call if needed. Parents were proactive and certainly, a few of those coins in loafers during her era helped many teens get home safely.
Now, we are adults but our parents have been adults for as long as we have been alive. And as adults, we should already have developed a different type of relationship with our parents- one that has evolved. Part of that evolution requires cultivating a new relationship, one between mature adults rather than “parent” and “child.” We already have the basic underpinnings — mutual love and shared memories. Add mutual respect and common interests and we may now enjoy a more fulfilling relationship with our parent[s]even with the realization that our job descriptions as ‘child’ have changed. Increased responsibilities are ours and as my mother has said to me many times, “It’s time for you to step up!”
We must remember things like this when our parents demonstrate that we must now protect them, and in such ways in which they feel their dignity remains intact. Be patient, empathic, and proactive as well. When parents demonstrate a little memory loss, instead of embarrassing them or making them feel badly by yelling[a definite no-no], be kind, compassionate. Place reminders in strategic spots around the home, if necessary. Give step by step directions, use memory markers. Just remember that life flows like a cycle, and as we age, we tend to move backwards in time, and return to an almost child-like state. That’s ok, because no matter what the aging process brings, we are indeed blessed to age. Allow your parents to age as gracefully as possible.
With that said, there are some statements to avoid saying to our aging parents. A few of them are presented in an infographic. Follow the link below for a little enlightenment. If for no other reason, we will be more mindful.
By the way, share your thoughts and let’s compare notes!