As we watch our parents age, our own maturity begins to become more real. It can be difficult to envision ourselves, or our parents for that matter, in the advanced stages of life. It is more pleasant to picture the young and robust version of our parents and ourselves. On the outside, our bodies may not allow this version to continue to shine through, but the inner person can remain. One needs to remember this when caring for an aging parent.
When seniors are convinced becoming old means becoming useless, devalued or helpless; they are less likely to seek preventive care and therefore die earlier. This too can create a more likely incidence of poor physical functioning and memory loss.
On the other hand, when older adults view what some like to refer to as the prime of life; a time of wisdom, satisfaction and self-realization; the results point in the opposite direction, toward a higher level of functioning. Obviously, this is the way we all want to envision ourselves and parents as we age. The question is how we go about it. We can begin by dispelling any stereotypes associated with “old age.”
By the same token, remember parents are adults that still have opinions, interests and intelligence – all of which matter. Ask them to share; don’t assume that because they may seem weak or have slowed down physically; they aren’t able to offer valid thoughts on matters – particularly when it pertains to their own well-being, plans or desires. It’s true, semantics count. Think before you undertake decisions they still want to be a part of.
The way we treat our aging parents is most likely how our children will treat us later in life. Therefore, always keep in mind that some things get better with age.