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Are Aging Parents Victims of Elder Bullying?

Elder BullyingCampaigns against bullying are everywhere these days. No longer can a rough and tough ten-year-old get away with teasing and tormenting his classmates; we’re now a zero tolerance society when it comes to bullying. But is it reasonable to consider that there could be another, less noticeable type of bullying taking place – elder bullying – that involves the reversing of roles with aging parents in an attempt to parent them, thus overstepping certain boundaries? It shouldn’t matter that our parents’ choices may be different than ours, because as adult individuals, we should respect their choices as much as is safely possible.

Sometimes it can be hard to know where the line in the sand is between being a helpful care provider for parents and taking over for them in areas they can safely manage on their own. And often, unsolved issues from childhood resurface – and feelings of resentment and bitterness add themselves to the mix, possibly affecting an adult child’s caretaking decisions.

To illustrate, there are various areas of contention that often arise between senior parents and their grown children:

  • Medical related decision making
  • Planning for end of life
  • Recommended safety modifications
  • Knowing when to stop driving
  • Managing finances

These tips can help diffuse sticky decision making situations more respectfully and effectively:

  • Try negotiating a safer alternative for a worry like driving, such as driving only in the daylight and only on short, local trips.
  • Open a discussion with small changes to implement, which may be less irritable to seniors, such as removing throw rugs, adding no-slip strips to the bathtub, and moving cords away from walkways.
  • Respect a senior’s wishes, without compromising safety. It is important to remember to ask for your parent’s input about decisions without talking down to him or her.
  • Put yourself in the senior’s shoes. Consider what it would be like to be in a similar situation and how you would want to be treated if the tables were turned.
  • It is important to remember, if there are safety or health concerns, don’t hesitate to contact a social worker or the senior’s physician for help.

And keep in mind that oftentimes, this type of serious discussion is often better received in the presence of a trusted medical professional or clergy member or through an objective third party. Want more tips to help make tough discussions with older adults go more smoothly and eliminate the potential for elder bullying? Contact Home Sweet Home In-Home Care at (866) 229-2505 to learn how we help families throughout Southwest Michigan. Our elder care in Portage, MI and  the nearby areas help keep elderly loved ones safe while allowing them to remain as independent as possible where they’re most comfortable – at home. For a full list of the communities we serve in Michigan, please visit our Locations page or reach out to the office nearest you: (269) 373-5444 in Kalamazoo; (269) 763-5350 in Paw Paw; (269) 849-9252 in St. Joseph; and (269) 963-9888 in Battle Creek.

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