How many times have your grown children offered unsolicited advice, even with the best of intentions? How did it make you feel? How did you respond? Open communication with grown children is essential to building relationships of trust and support, but sometimes it is hard to hear their opinions, especially when they are not in agreement with your own feelings. Older parents who are independent and strong-willed in their golden years may be set in their own ways and won’t appreciate being told by their children what to do or what not to do, how to spend their money, or how to plan for future living arrangements and end of life issues. However, there comes a time when both groups must sit down and listen to each other. If you are the grown child, perhaps you are wondering if it is time to have “The Talk” with your aging parents. If you are the aging parent, maybe it is time to approach “The Talk” with your grown children.
Most of the time, intentions between parent and child are instinctively protective, and motives are loving and caring. It is worth remembering that when children are growing up, it is their parent’s job to protect them and do what is in their best interest. Mature aging changes the dynamics of that relationship with children. As parents age, it is important that their concerns and desires be heard while also listening to their children’s ideas about what can make lifestyles easier or more enjoyable. After all, grown children ultimately want what is best for their parents, right? If the lines of communication are kept open, aging parents can benefit from information being shared and use it to strengthen their mutual understanding. Dr. David Lipschitz writes in his blog on Lifelong Health, “Parents spend decades providing unconditional love and emotional, moral and financial support to their children. But in the twilight of life, some parents may find themselves in a new domain—one where roles are reversed and the child must be the one to provide help, love and support.” Adult children can become advocates and representatives working to protect their parents’ interests.
As parental roles become reversed, adult children have an opportunity to become more engaged in helping their parents decide what is in their best interest. As long as their personal wishes are considered, and their independence and freedoms are respected, it is reassuring to know that even unsolicited advice can be friendly and helpful. For those older adults without children nearby to lend assistance, there are a multitude of social service organizations that can provide support. Agencies like Meals on Wheels of Hamilton County, Shepherd’s Center of Hamilton County, Prime Life Enrichment in Carmel, the Noblesville Senior Center and other in-home care service companies are available and standing by to help aging parents who wish to remain in their own homes, living independently for as long as possible.
Jane Brody on health and aging says, “Growing old is not for sissies”, and this may be true for many Baby Boomers, but it does not mean that help is unavailable. Aging parents need nurturing just as much as their adult children, and both groups need only to reach out to their local communities to find that nurturing.