Maybe it begins when you realize they are forgetting silly things that you know they well-know. Maybe you notice when they aren’t as spry as they once were. Maybe you sense that they aren’t following the conversations or involved in them as they once were. Maybe you notice that the rituals (daily bed making for example) aren’t completed. As time goes on, you realize that there’s a little hitch in your loved one’s routine, conversation, eating habits, sleeping habits and such.
Many times we brush those moments off with the thought that hey, they are getting older. But how many signs does one need in order to shake up our thinking and begin the growing alarm that our loved ones may need more help?
That is a personal issue for many people as we can easily explain away when we aren’t ready to deal with the issue at hand which is: our loved ones are aging and need our help. For some people, it’s a mind-blowing thought (especially if we are their children) when our loved ones have been people we looked up to, respected, revered and who took care of us. To see them slide even a little can cause us to feel that tinge of panic or to altogether dismiss it because we can’t even begin to go there in our minds.
But let’s been honest – aging happens to us all, so we need to help when we can! Because someday, it will be our turn. So what do we do when we begin to notice more frequently, aging signs in our loved ones?
Tread lightly is my advice. Know your loved one and approach the subject accordingly. Some people welcome a little help. Others vehemently oppose it. Nobody likes someone else to point out that we are functioning at less than our normal ability so be kind as you broach the subject. Be respectful. Offer help in a non-judgemental way and allow the conversation to flow in a peaceful way.
Caveat: unless you see imminent danger, then be proactive and respectful.
It’s not easy for your loved ones to admit that they are weakening or finding their normal routines more difficult. Getting confused, losing objects and forgetting to eat are tell-tale signs that you need to step up your communication with them. But do it in a non-threatening way. Take more time with them when possible. Encourage them to share with you how they are feeling and what they are noticing if anything. Do it the way you would like ti done for you.
I have some friends who are noticing their loved ones showing signs of aging that are concerning to the well-being of their loved ones. It’s not an easy task to flow into the parenting role of a loved one who is older than you. It’s not always met with gratitude, but instead sometimes it is met with distrust. It’s scary for your aging loved one to feel that they are not as strong as they once were. Some fight it and others simply allow the aging process to flow easily.
My advice is to keep your eyes and ears open and to broach the subject with compassion. Listen to your intuition too as many times we know, we just don’t want to see because it’s hard to think of our loved ones in that way.
I wish you well on this next chapter of your journey. I’m here if you need a hand to hold as we’ve experienced this as well. You are not alone.