iStock-476249342_could-you-be-bullying-your-senior-parent-300x200Everywhere you look these days, campaigns against bullying are popping up. We’re now a zero tolerance society when it comes to bullying, and a rough and tough ten-year-old can no longer get away with teasing and tormenting his classmates. But is it reasonable to consider that there could be another, less noticeable type of bullying taking place – that of bullying senior parents where we’re reversing roles with them in an attempt to parent them, thus overstepping certain boundaries? Our parents may make different choices than we would, and that is ok. We should respect their choices as often as we can, keeping safety in mind of course.

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.

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 with senior parents 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.
  • Open a discussion with small changes to implement which may be less irritable to seniors, such as removing throw rugs, adding no-slip strips to the bathtub, and moving cords away from walkways.
  • Keep in mind that your parent’s wishes should be respected as much as possible as long as safety is not compromised. In order to work most successfully together, be sure to ask for the senior’s input during discussions, and be careful not to speak 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, don’t hesitate to contact a social worker or the senior’s physician if there are health or safety concerns.

And keep in mind that oftentimes, this type of serious discussion is often better received in the presence of a trusted medical professional or clergy member or through an objective third party. Need additional resources for softening the blow of tough topics so you don’t feel like you’re bullying your senior parents? Contact Regency Home Care, providing in-home care in Atlanta, GA, for trusted, professional assistance in keeping your aging loved ones safe, while allowing them to remain as independent as possible where they’re most comfortable – at home.