Topics on Aging

By Juan Gallo

How do we honor our parents who are aging in place?

March 14, 2022

Last week, we talked about how the relationship changes when adult children start to care for their parents. This week, I want to discuss how we can honor and support our parents who are aging in place.

There’s a growing trend of families supporting their aging loved one within the walls of their own home. This concept of “aging in place” allows the senior to claim independence within a space that feels familiar and comfortable to them.

However, this means that the family of the senior – often their children – take on the role of caregiver.

That can be tricky. Family caregivers constantly navigate the tension between ensuring safety and allowing independence.

How can we give our parents the ability to make small choices in their day-to-day habits to make them feel like they have control?

At Heart2Heart, we have what’s called a Person-Centered Approach. We focus on how the senior wishes to be cared for. Our volunteers respond to needs, but we let the aging adult decide what that response looks like.

I believe it’s important to give our aging parents the same latitude. That means learning how to choose your battles.

The first time your child came out of their room with two different pairs of shoes on, you had to decide how to react. You weighed their independent expression versus your own expectations for their appearance. You evaluated the safety risk of wearing shoes of different heights and even determined if their choice was a mistake or intentional.

The process is the same for your parents aging in place. How can we give our parents the ability to make small choices in their day-to-day habits to make them feel like they have control?

Maybe your parent is diabetic and wants to eat sweet after sweet. Even though it’s their choice, how can you support them in making better decisions? Maybe you can help them celebrate one day a week where they enjoy sweets and build up to that the rest of the week.

Ultimately, we won’t want to tell people how to live and what to do. Imagine that you were to wake up one day and suddenly someone is telling you when to shower. Maybe you like getting a shower at noon. Should you be forced to wake up and take a shower at 7 a.m. because of your caregiver’s preferences?

Try to put yourself in their shoes. Even if those shoes don’t match.

What do you think the best way to support your loved one’s independence as they age in place? We’re here to support you.

Read more about:
Juan Gallo
Juan Gallo is the CEO of Heart2Heart Outreach, where he oversees the mobilization of volunteers to provide hope, share love and restore purpose to the lives of the aging population across South Florida.

He also serves as a local pastor and as an adjunct professor at Trinity International University, where he is teaching a course on diversity and aging. Juan has a master’s degree in counseling and psychology and is a licensed mental health counselor intern.

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