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  • Robin Dynes


Adapting to change is easiest when people want to make it work. Unless you have everyone’s full support you are likely to end up as a referee, caught in the middle between your parent and children or spouse.

It helps to discuss and agree some ground rules. These might include:

* Everyone talking openly about anything that bothers them, so adjustments can be made. Often it is just a matter of telling the other person about it. That person may have been unaware and then not have a problem making a change.

* Working out ways to give and get privacy. All household members need to have personal space and their private times.

* You and your parent understanding that both of you have evolved and changed and may not share the same opinions. Agree to respect each other’s opinion and avoid criticising and judging each other.

* Making sure children realise they are not the cause of your parents’ depression, anger or fear and that their condition is not contagious. Nor are they responsible for curing their grandparent.

* Discussing ways that family members can handle parents’ embarrassing or odd behaviour.

Possible problem areas.

Most people underestimate the adjustments needed and how it will affect them. You might make a good job of sorting out the major issues such as finance, personal and respite care, safety matters, etc., but many things can grate on your nerves:

- Older adults tend to do most things slowly which can irritate.

- Your parent feels the cold, so you raise the temperature and you and other family members sweat.

- Your parent has poor hearing. She doesn’t understand any banter and feels excluded.

- They get tired easily. On outings, when everyone starts enjoying themselves, want to go home.

- Constantly repeating things because your loved one is unable to remember what has been said or agreed.

- They expect three sit-down meals a day. Your family come and go freely and most days warm food in the micro-wave and generally look after themselves.

- She/he is not good at pursuing their own activities but watches you constantly and makes unwanted comments.

It is often these relatively minor or routine incidents that are ‘the last straw’ and causes strong emotional reactions needing flexibility and patience. You, your parent and your family will need time to adapt and work out solutions to the challenges.

Copyright - Robin Dynes April 2020

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