Are You the Oppressor? Bullying Elderly Parents
February 10, 2017
Campaigns against bullying are everywhere these days. No longer can a rough and tough ten-year-old get away with teasing and tormenting his classmates; we’re now a zero tolerance society when it comes to bullying. However, is it possible there’s an alternative, less obvious kind of bullying going on – that of bullying elderly parents where we’re crossing boundaries with them through role-reversal by trying to parent our parents? 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 in, 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. To illustrate, there are various areas of contention that often arise between senior parents and their grown children:
- Medical related decision-making
- Planning for end of life
- Recommended safety modifications
- Knowing when to stop driving
- Managing finances
These tips can help diffuse sticky decision-making situations more respectfully and effectively:
- Try negotiating a safer alternative for a worry like driving, such as driving only in the daylight and only on short, local trips.
- Start with "easy to digest" suggestions that may be more acceptable to parents, like moving cords away from walkways, adding no-slip strips to the bathtub, or taping down rugs.
- Keep in mind that your parents’ wishes should be respected as much as possible as long as safety is not compromised. Ask for their input without speaking down to them, and you’re more likely to work together for a successful outcome.
- Put yourself in the elderly person's shoes. How would you feel in a similar circumstance, and how would you want to be treated?
- If there are health or safety concerns, however, don’t hesitate to contact a social worker or the senior’s physician.
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 a bully to your elderly parents? Contact Cascade Companion Care in Arlington, WA at 425-361-0044 for trusted, professional assistance in keeping your older loved ones safe, while allowing them to remain as independent as possible where they’re most comfortable - at home.