When it’s Time to Parent the Parents.

There’s a new kind of parenting that couples and single parents are dealing with today. Parenting aging parents, especially those who really don’t think they need any supervision or help. Just like the classic surly teenager, many older men and women spurn the advice and proffered help of those they consider ‘out of it.’

So how do you handle an elderly parent who is grappling with health issues and perhaps the early stages of senility or Alzheimers?

At the Geriatric Section of Northwestern University’s Feinberg Institute of Medicine, the staff put together a few helpful tips for those facing such situations:

When you need to broach a sensitive or hot button topic, do it when they are at the peak of their day. Some seniors feel great in the morning, and then slowly get short-tempered and lethargic as the day goes by. Others are just the opposite. When you need to talk to a parent about their deteriorating driving skills, for instance, do it when they are feeling their best; the reaction will be much more positive.

When you mention a problem or situation with an elderly parent, always lead with: “So what do YOU want to do about it?” That assures them you’re not trying to take away their independence, but want to help them steer their own course.