Knowing When to Step In: How to Avoid Being a Helicopter Child to Aging Parents

Alaska senior care
Learn when to allow senior independence in this article from the Alaska senior care experts.

We’ve all heard of helicopter parents, particularly when a child goes off to college. Truth be told, we possibly may be guilty of hovering a little too closely ourselves. Discovering that optimal balance between caring and overstepping our boundaries isn’t easy.

And now, with the additional number of sandwich generationers providing care for both children and aging parents, we’re at risk of acquiring one more badge of overbearingness: that of a helicopter child. It’s very common for adult children to find themselves slipping into a role reversal in regard to their aging parents, with the best of intentions, of course; naturally, we'd like to keep our loved ones safe. However, this could easily lead seniors to feel indignant, offended, or possibly discouraged at their new lack of control.

If you think there's a chance you're infringing upon your senior parent’s rights and sense of self-worth and control, here’s insight on how to come in for a landing, and determine to step in only when absolutely necessary.

Speak about objectives. Engage your senior parent in a dialogue about aging plans, and exactly how she would want you to help in reaching those goals. For instance, in case the senior were to develop dementia, would the preference be to relocate into an assisted living facility, or remain at home with help? If the senior were to fall, requiring an operation or rehabilitation, how would she picture her recuperation experience? Would she be happy getting help with personal care tasks, including bathing and using the toilet, from you or from a certified caregiver?

Speak up when necessary. When safety is compromised, it is imperative to step in, keeping a respectful, collaborative state of mind. The goal is to make sure the senior maintains as much self-sufficiency as is feasible. If she’s hesitant to accept help and support or even make wise choices, such as utilizing a walker when needed to prevent a fall, it could be helpful to enlist the help of her medical doctor or a geriatric care manager to present guidelines.

Otherwise, step back. When you are seeking to influence circumstances that are not impacting the senior’s health or safety, and she's cognitively still capable of making her own decisions, it is advisable to let those concerns go. “A child should be sensitive to a parent’s need for self-determination and maintaining self-identity,” shares Barry Jacobs, clinical psychologist and author of The Emotional Survival Guide for Caregivers: Looking After Yourself and Your Family While Helping Aging Parents.

Call Midnight Sun Home Care at (907) 677-7890 or contact us online for professional Alaska senior care assistance which is always aimed at ensuring as much independence as is feasible for older adults, permitting family caregivers time to step back and give their parents the freedom they need while remaining safe.


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