If you’re actively involved in caring for your aging parents, life can seem overwhelming. Whether you’re one of the millions “sandwiched” in between older and younger family members living with you and needing your attention, or you’re simply spending a lot of time with your folks at doctors’ appointments, picking up their meds or driving them (since you asked them to not drive) to social activities, you’re busy.
While we all can keep occupied with so much to do, studies are showing that it’s the quality of our time together — parenting both our kids and (ParentingOurParents= POP) POParenting our seniors — is key.
Having quality time with our elder relatives includes “being present,” listening and engaging them in things that interest them, relaxing and listening to music together. This creates times of warmth, affection, deeper communication and special memories: it undermines the challenges and stress of so much to do .
Here are 3 ways to make the art of “being there” easier:
1. Talk to your parents about wanting to spend some quality time to specially connect with them. Let them know you value them, their time, their memories and their opinions.
2. Start out with a limited amount of time, 10 to 15 minutes, as if you were starting to learn to meditate. Take some deep breaths. Get into a comfortable location for everyone involved so that you can sit together eye-to-eye, put down your devices, set aside your other worries and just BE WITH THEM, actively listening to your parents and sharing with them. Set a time in your day when you are less likely to be distracted by other people. If being at home has too many distractions find a quiet place outside like the park, botanical gardens.
3. Notice as you go through your day items of interest that you and they would enjoy discussing. You might even seek their advice, as you did in days gone by. Keep in mind that not all of us are chatty. You and your parents don’t always have to have something to talk about. Simply sitting beside them, holding their hand and sharing your space and time with them could just be what puts a smile on their faces.
In what ways have you practiced the art of “being there” for your senior parents? Let us know by commenting below.