As we get older and blossom into your youths, our parents are getting older too. Old age is a blessing, but it also comes with its trials: ailing bodies, aching bones, weakening organs and more. In a way, old age is the body’s way of gradually shutting down.
This year has been a trying one for my family. First, my dad fell very sick and a few weeks later, my mum joined him. The most difficult part of the experience for me, wasn’t the running around for medical care or cost of the treatment, it was seeing and acknowledging that my parents were old. I knew them as young youthful people. They’ve always been strong, they cared for and provided for us. Now, I am faced with a more fragile version of them that I don’t know how to handle.
I had noticed that a gradual reversal of roles is happening. It is our turn to care for them but how do I parent my own parents? But. They won’t give up their independence easily.
My first lesson is patience. While we are trying to do what is best for them, they too are grabbling with their own fragile failing bodies. They have cared for themselves and us for several years and now we want to tell them what to eat and what to do? Of course, they will resist. Give them time to adjust to the new situation. Remember when we were younger, and they’d scold us? We didn’t like it then and they won’t like it now. So, go jeje, be patient
Next, don’t make decisions for them without their input. This can be dicey sha. My trick here is that even when I already made the decision, I’d present it to them as a question. What do you think we should do mummy? Do you think we should do this (my original idea), that seems to be a good choice? Most times, they’d agree with you.
Just as you shouldn’t make some decisions without them, don’t treat them like children. Explain why they shouldn’t eat so much eba and red meat again. Explain why you want them to eat dinner before 8pm, why you think they should retire or change a work habit. How I blackmail my parents here is that I’d say, don’t you want to attend my wedding hale and healthy? One of my friends uses her kids (their grandkids) to blackmail her parents. She tells them to please do it for the sake of the grandkids and if that doesn’t work, she’d send the kids to beg her mum.
Parenting your aging parents is a difficult situation to navigate through. There’s no handbook for it. You’ll just have to learn along the way how best to care for them through the evening of their life.