SENIOR SPOTLIGHT: What goes unsaid about aging | Lifestyles | – Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Most adult children of aging parents understand the importance of attending to a parent’s physical, medical and financial needs. But we often overlook the psychological aspects of aging. Here are the things that our parents would tell us about aging if they could:

“It’s hard to admit that I need help.”

“I need time to adjust to change.”

“Don’t talk down to me.”

“I’m not helpless.”

“My biggest fear is being a burden.”

“I need to feel useful.”

“I miss all of my old friends.”

“I don’t feel any different on the inside.”

“Walkers are for old people.”

“It hurts to leave home.”

“My memories are precious.”

The more sensitive we can be about what our aging parents are going through, the more we can offer the kind of help they really need.

Here is how to show we really understand and care.

— Honor emotions. Encourage parents to express their feelings about aging and listen when they do. Known as the generation that was taught not to wallow in emotions, it’s important to listen when they are willing to talk.

— Don’t overwhelm. There is a fine line between offering help and taking over. For example, helping an aging parent through the new technology of automated phone prompts and letting them talk when a real person is available is a good example of striking the right balance.

— Make decisions with parents. Adult kids don’t always know what’s best for parents. When choosing a housekeeper, for example, parents may care more about experience, while you may consider it more important to consider personality.

— Be patient. Barbara recalls when her mother, Edith, moved into an assisted-living facility. For months Edith kept asking to go home. This period was painful for both of them, but it did pass. Gradually, Edith adjusted and recently during one outing told her daughter, “I’d like to go home now — to my new house, where all my friends are.”

— Stand firm. If parents refuse to consider needed services, hold a family meeting. Say, “we are talking about this as a family because we want you to have choices.” Come ready to review options and don’t leave until parents agree to try something.

— Accept their limits. It’s hard to watch a parent’s health decline, but kids must try to accept these changes. It is sad to see them struggle with things that previously came easily, but we need to accept they can’t do all the things they used to.

— Respect their desires. As people get older, their appetite for socializing often changes and they may prefer to spend more quiet time at home. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are lonely; sometimes solitude can be healing. If a parent seems very withdrawn, though, it may be time to consider professional treatment.

— Celebrate a senior’s life. Seniors often express the joy of their life through photos and stories. Family members should take the time to look at photo albums and listen to memories.

The more sensitive we can be about what our aging parents are going through, the more we can offer the kind of help they really need.

How are you doing?

Maureen A. Wendt is president and CEO of The Dale Association, a non-profit organization that provides senior, mental health, in-home care, caregiver support services and enrichment activities for adults. For more information, call 716-433-1937 or visit .