Tuesday

Are You the Boss of Mom and Dad?

How much do your aging parents appreciate you raising the subject of them not managing life so well? As much as the cat wants to take a walk with the dog? As much as you want a pet tarantula?

Well, let me put in this way. Do you remember how much you enjoyed that sex and virginity talk with Mom when you were fourteen and she was suspicious? That's pretty much how much your parents want you to talk to them about age, health and self-neglect.

No-one wants to have interference from their kids. Certainly no one wants to admit that they aren't aging well. And inevitably, they probably hear criticism in you even raising the topic.

So, that is why you approach this subject gently, kindly and without reproach. And did I mention tact? Oh yes, and taking stuff on yourself.

Now some parents are such open people, so self-aware and unafraid of admitting their life circumstances that there will be no problem at all.

"Why, son, we're so glad you mentioned your concerns about us. We were just going to talk to you about what we need and can't do any more." There's a couple of sentences rarely spoken in the inter-generational talk realm.

No, you need lots of soft-soaping here. One reason is that your parents may actually not be aware of their loss in function. Two is that, if they are, they even more don't want to talk about it. The underlying feelings here are often their shame, their fear, their growing awareness of becoming more helpless. None of which you enjoy as feelings either, right?

So you approach this as a way of building them up, not as tearing them down. It's true when they are stubborn, disbelieving and dismissive, then adult children often do feel the urge to take them down a peg or two by proving everything they're afraid of. So, since someone has to be the grownup, that would be you and your siblings.

You might want to share your concerns with them first. To get a reality check of what you're seeing. Then you could usefully get together with siblings and any other family members or even neighbors if they're very close to your parents. That way, you can fugurew out the major concerns and begin making a plan.

Unless your parents are in real danger from incompetence to stay safe and live healthily, then start with a few extra nice inputs into life. Take meals around, have someone help in the house. If they protest, here's a way that often works.

You say,"Gosh well gee, Mom and Dad, I know you say everything okay, and it probably is, but I just worry about your guys. You've done a lot for me and I want to do things for you now. "

You can choose your own words but here you are emphasizing your love, your desire to be a good child and you wish to enable to have a great style of living, blah blah blah. Why? Because they will only accept your help when they feel safe with you, respected by you and loved by you.

Otherwise, they will fight you all the way.

Frena Gray-Davidson, Alzheimer's caregiver and author of five caregiving books, including her latest book "Alzheimer's 911: Hope, Help and Healing for Caregivers", available at http://www.amazon.com. Frena teaches care families and professionals to decode the language of dementia and achieve successful behavior interventions. Go to her website at http://www.alzguide.com/ and sign up for her free monthly online newsletter for all involved in dementia care. Email her at frenagd@gmail.com.

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Over 20 years office work experience, six years completed college coursework, background in print media and communications, recognized for exceptional attendance and received merit increase for past job performance, self-published author and part-time entrepreneur, Internet marketing and social media experience. Interned for non-profit organization, women's group and community service business. Additional experience: teaching/training others, customer service and sales. Learn more at Nicholl McGuire and Nicholl McGuire Media

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