Solutions to nurture your relationship with the older adult include:
Sharing your feelings and concerns with the older adult can help you work together.
Before you start the conversation, ask yourself:
If you’re not used to discussing feelings with the older adult, start small. Share something that might bother or confuse you, but doesn’t really upset you. Ask how the older adult feels.
Listen carefully to what the older adult says. Non-verbal communication can tell you more about how the older adult feels. For example, does the older adult seem happy, scared, angry, relaxed or upset when you focus on:
Be prepared for the older adult to have negative or positive reactions. Assume that the older adult means well.
Ask open-ended questions like: “What might make that less stressful for you?” or “Is there another way we might be able to do that?”
Point out when you and the older adult agree. Make clear that you respect differences of opinion.
Try to end on a positive note. For example: “Thanks for talking that through. We might feel differently, but now we understand each other’s views.”
When you and the older adult need to make a decision or solve a problem, avoid jumping to conclusions.
Talk to the older adult to figure out:
To get more information and explore different options:
Think about what is and isn’t under your control.
For example, if you bring the older adult a healthy meal, how the older adult responds may have little or nothing to do with you. Can you let go of your disappointment, if the older adult is too tired, sick or worried to enjoy the meal?
If the older adult’s needs change, you might help in different ways over time. Some kinds of help might “fit” your relationship with the older adult better than others.
For example, a son might not feel comfortable helping his mother bathe or use the bathroom. Regularly giving help like this can cause real stress.
If the help you’re giving the older adult doesn’t fit your relationship, ask:
Avoid always focusing on tasks and problems when you see the older adult. Try to balance “serious” talk with time enjoying each other’s company.
Set aside some time for you and the older adult to do things you like together. Suggest relaxing activities, like looking at pictures, taking a walk, watching a movie, visiting friends, or making and eating a meal together.