Nowadays, everyone is talking about bullying and how to stop it. When we were children, bullies were everywhere and seemed to get away with everything; but we’re a zero-tolerance society now when it comes to bullying. However perhaps there’s some other, less apparent sort of bullying still occurring – that of trying to play the parent to our aging parents, thus overstepping some unwritten boundaries; in some cases, to the point of senior bullying. After all, even if our parents’ choices are different than ours, their choices should still be respected as much as is possible, with safety in mind.
Sometimes it can be hard to know where the line in the sand is between being a helpful care provider for parents and taking over for them in areas they can safely manage on their own. And added into the mix are often unresolved issues from childhood that can resurface – feelings of resentment and bitterness that may find their way into an adult’s caretaking decisions.
To illustrate, there are various areas of contention that often arise between senior parents and their grown children:
- Medical related decision making
- Planning for end of life
- Recommended safety modifications
- Knowing when to stop driving
- Managing finances
These tips can help diffuse sticky decision-making situations more respectfully and effectively:
- Try negotiating a safer alternative for a worry like driving, such as driving only in the daylight and only on short, local trips.
- Start with small suggestions that may be more tolerable to seniors, such as adding no-slip strips to the bathtub, moving cords away from walkways or taping down rugs.
- Try not to compromise safety, while also keeping a senior’s wishes in mind. Ask for the senior’s input without speaking down to him or her, and you’re more likely to work together for a successful outcome.
- Put yourself in the older adult’s shoes. Consider what it would be like to be in a similar situation and how you would want to be treated if the tables were turned.
- However, if there are safety or health concerns, do not hesitate to contact the senior’s physician or a social worker.
And keep in mind that typically, serious discussions such as these are often better received in the presence of a trusted healthcare professional or religious clergy member or through an objective third party. Want more tips to help make tough discussions with older adults go more smoothly, and avoid the possibility of senior bullying? Contact Home Matters’s experts for trusted, professional assistance in keeping your older loved ones safe, while allowing them to remain as independent as possible where they’re most comfortable – at home.