Growing older changes a lot of things, and it’s not only physical. If you have an elderly loved one, there are certain things you should refrain from saying to avoid hurting or offending their feelings. Yes, they are older and can’t do everything they used to, but they are still the same person underneath it all. Having compassion towards your elderly loved ones will help keep them in high-spirits, decreasing their risks of depression. Here are 5 things you should not say to your elderly parent:
- Don’t tell them they are “old”.
You know they are old, they know they are old, so why constantly remind them of it? First off, constantly calling a person “old”, whether they are or not, is rude. Nobody wants to hear being called “old” over and over as if they are almost expired. There is just a negative connotation to the word “old”, especially when referring to a human being. At least limit the use of the word when you are in the presence of your aging parent. Don’t tell them they are too “old” to drive or too “old” to live alone. You can, instead, suggest hiring a professional home caregiver to help them with their daily living while remaining in their home.
- Do not tell them they are “not allowed” to do something.
While role reversals may change, your parent is still your parent and should be respected as such. Instead of telling them “you are not allowed to do that”, you can say, “I don’t think it’s a good idea because…” Your elderly parent shouldn’t be scolded or talked to like a child. Everyone has the right to grow older with dignity and respect.
- “Who is the beneficiary of your life insurance?”
It’s never okay to ask your elderly parent if you are going to get money from their life insurance. If you have to ask why, then you really need to do some self-reflection. Asking your elderly parent questions about their life insurance policy is like telling them you can’t wait until they die so you can collect the money. It’s tacky and cold-hearted, no matter how you rephrase it.
- “You are not the same person I knew growing up.”
Aging changes people, both psychically and mentally. As you get older, there is a high chance of memory decline and physical limitations, such as mobility. Such changes will be hard on family members, including yourself. But the most affected one your elderly loved ones. There is no need to remind them they are not the same mother or father you once knew because it won’t change anything. They won’t be able to go into a time machine and turn back into their 35-year-old self. Keeping such comments to yourself is recommended. But if you do have to talk about the changes, speak to their physician. You can also speak to a therapist or close relative about the changes in your elderly parent and the emotional effects it has on you.
- “What is wrong with you?”
The fact of the matter is memory and comprehension will gradually decline with age, especially if your elderly parent has Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. If your elderly parent is consistently making the same mistake, like leaving all the lights on every night or asking you the same question every time they see you, do not lose your patience. Instead, ask them what’s wrong with them. They may not be in the right frame of mind, so even if you ask them why they did something, they might not even completely understand your question. For every action, there is a reaction. So if you react every time your aging parent does something to your disapproval, it will just add unnecessary stress to you both. If your main concern is safety, then go around the home and safeguard the hazardous areas. You can also give the responsibility of watching over your elderly parent to a trusted professional senior home caregiver – alleviating your stress!
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