To my beloved POP community:
What is POParenting?
It’s caring with love, patience and useful tools for those loved ones who once cared for us and now need us to help them.
What POParenting is NOT: “taking over someone’s life,” being a harsh disciplinarian, issuing orders. None of these was effective parenting when we were raising our kids or when our now aging parents were raising us.
Ultimately, POParenting is a call to action to transform, educate and reform the way we think about and care for our aging loved ones and ourselves.
It’s been our consistent experience that when people get to understand the love, patience, family healing and extraordinary personal growth they can have from POParenting – as those doing it and those receiving it – both generations are warmed and excited to embrace this unique opportunity.
You may have found yourself thrust into POParenting during COVID but, if you’re like me, you may not have been paying attention to how much your aging loved ones could already have used some support and attention from you, even if they didn’t seem to want it.
Of course all of us in all generations have been thrust by this virus into confusion, lack of scientific information and numerous mandated limitations on: visiting our families and friends; going out at all and social distancing; no restaurants, office meetings or senior citizen get-togethers. This has led to much additional stress on what might well be a stressful situation to begin with for your senior relatives.
Recognizing that you have choice to become a POParent to one or more of your loved ones will create a set of responsibilities – to talk with family; to obtain useful information; to become a family team so you can develop, oversee and tweak a workable POPlan. And, along with the responsibilities come the numerous joys associated with POParenting – feeling good, useful, helpful, kind and loving – de-stress yourself with those feelings!
WHAT TO DO if you’re starting to POParent during COVID-19:
- Draw up and have your parents sign paperwork that matters the most when people get ill, especially seniors. Healthcare Proxy, Durable Power of Atty; and Wills, Trusts and Consent to Talk with Their Doctors are available from online sources and from attorneys who are working from home. Even if these documents are not ideal, they may well be needed during these next weeks and months. Having the conversation may prove delicate to talk about but doing so will allow POParents to get through the privacy limitations of HIPAA, as well as provide relief to all, if those documents become needed.
- Make copies of the documents so they’re available to be grabbed in a hurry, should a hospital visit be needed.
- Make a copy of all medicines your parents take, when and how much. Put a copy of that list in their car, if they have one, and in yours. Update it, as appropriate.
- Draw up plans for safe “visitations” with family members as loneliness is its own danger for those shut in and alone. Encourage all family members to reach out to loved ones, contact old friends and use the time to de-stress with others. Using the visuals associated with Face Time, Skype, Zoom and Grandpad tablets helps all involved to stay close and really plays a crucial role in keeping folks less anxious.
- Encourage behaviors that feel good: sleeping a lot; napping is great for elders, too; staying hydrated and eating healthy, while also allowing a few special snacks; learning new things.
- Limit exposure to news and other programming which depresses you and your aging parents.
- Enjoy your favorite books, TV and Internet shows, especially watching those that feel uplifting or make you laugh or invite you to get up and dance.
- Use this time as a chance to have frequent contact, use social media wisely to share enjoyable memories as well as to plans for the future to “make new memories.”
- Take a look at and then share all our resources, blog posts, useful ideas at www.ParentingOurParents.org and pick up a copy of the self-help memoir I wrote: “Parenting Our Parents: Transforming the Challenge into a Journey of Love.”
And, given the nature of this health hazard and your increasing attention on your aging loved ones, DO observe and listen for any changes in their health and if so, TELEPHONE their physician, unless it’s necessary to go to a hospital.