February 11, 2017
Nowadays, everyone is talking about bullying and how to stop it. In the past, a rowdy middle-schooler might have gotten away with antagonizing and terrorizing a classmate; but as a society, we no longer take bullying lightly. But is it possible there’s a different, less visible form of bullying happening – senior bullying: that is, overstepping boundaries with aging parents, perhaps even reversing roles and attempting to parent our parents. It shouldn’t matter that our parents’ choices may be different than ours, because as adult individuals, we should respect their choices as much as is safely possible.
There’s a fine line between the helpfulness required in providing care for older adults, and trying to take over for them. And added to that are often unsettled issues from childhood that can resurface – feelings of bitterness and resentment that may find their way into an adult’s caretaking decisions.
For example, there are several main areas of contention that often arise between older adults and their grown children:
- When to stop driving
- How to manage finances
- Recommended safety modifications
- Medical decisions
- Planning for end of life
These tips can help diffuse difficult situations more effectively and respectfully:
- Try negotiating a safe alternative for an issue such as driving, like reducing driving time to short, local trips taken during daylight hours only.
- 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.
- Respect a senior’s wishes, without compromising safety. A more successful outcome can often be achieved by asking for the senior’s input without speaking down to him or her.
- Put yourself in the senior’s shoes. How would you want to be treated and how would you feel in a similar circumstance?
- 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 sometimes, intense discussions such as these are often better received through an objective third party or in the presence of a trusted medical professional or clergy member. Need more tips for initiating tough discussions with seniors, without fear of senior bullying? Contact Continuum, the top St. Louis home care agency, at 314-863-9912 for trusted, professional assistance in keeping your elderly loved ones safe, while allowing them to remain as independent as possible where they’re most comfortable – at home.