Have you ever been in a situation where you wish you hadn’t said something?
At least once in our lifetime, we’ll say something to our friends, family, colleagues, or teachers that we regret afterward. Sometimes we don’t even realize our words hurt others.
Have in mind that seniors may be particularly sensitive. They might face certain health problems which have a significant impact on their life. Your parents are not as independent as they were. Show your understanding and patience always, and carefully choose your words.
Here are the things you should never say to your aging parent if you don’t want to offend them.
“You can’t drive! No, you can’t go outside. You can’t do this, you can’t do that!”
No one likes to be told what or what not to do.
Your parents may be stubborn and insist on doing things they aren’t capable of. This is a sign that they are afraid they are losing independence and must rely on other people.
Driving is an especially sensitive topic. If your loved one loves to drive a car but is getting too old for it, introduce the topic gently. Say something like, “I’ve noticed there are so many people driving like crazy these days, don’t you think?” And gradually come to the conclusion that it may be safer for them to take a bus instead of driving a car. Of course, this is not as easy as it seems, but the point is to go slowly and don’t tell immediately tell them they can’t drive anymore.
For more about seniors and driving, read here.
“I can’t listen to you anymore. You always talk about the same things.”
This is one of the worst things you can say to your parent. Instead of complaining about how they repeating the same stories, ask them questions leading to another topic. Try to focus on positive topics and avoid evoking negative memories and feelings.
Repeating the same stories can be a sign of early Alzheimer’s. Thus, if it gets severe, consult a physician.
“You always complain about your health.”
Your parents are not young anymore. They may have problems with mobility, blood pressure, memory, or even more severe problems.
It is not rare that seniors feel constant pain. Chronic pain impacts every aspect of their lives, and it is understandable they complain about it.
Instead of yelling at them, try to understand what they have been through and their fight with the pain. After all, we all age.
“You are not able to live on your own anymore.”
This is a direct hit to their independence. They are probably aware of the fact they are struggling to live alone. You don’t need to remind them of that.
When you notice your loved one needs an additional hand, try to introduce the idea of having someone by their side, step by step.
See first what the dangerous places in their house are and how to improve them. Perhaps you can add grab bars to enable them to more easily move through the house.
Then, ask your senior to hire a caregiver, but only for house chores. This way, they will remain highly independent and have someone to talk to. Caregivers can talk about their experiences and what other services they provide, so the idea of having someone to take care of them will be less and less scary.
Have in mind that older adults can be more sensitive as they age. This is a normal thing, and you should be careful when choosing your words. Although you want the best for them, think about how you will say something to your parents.