Aging Parents: the Tougher Conversations

Last year I spoke about my experience with my aging mother, someone who has planned and prepared for her passing, not just on paper, but also has given a lot of time and attention to her health and mental/spiritual happiness as she ages.

That doesn’t mean that her aging is “easy”, but it allows us to have discussions surrounding the topic. This is empowering and yet I am aware that this is also an anomaly.

I continue to believe that this ability to communicate is the key to dealing with aging parents in a healthy way for both sides. But what happens when it isn’t so easy?

My experience with my father is probably more the norm for most of us dealing with aging parents.

Ever since his first medical issue associated with aging, my father has found it a horrible experience and would rather not talk about it. Sure, he has all his “ducks in a row” regarding paperwork, but that does little to help us relate to each other about this topic of aging and ultimate passing.

But even when encountering this difficulty, it is important to keep the lines of communication open.

As each visit with my father reveals more and more about his aging process and each physical setback brings an even bigger mental setback for him, it is definitely painful to watch.

So, I do my best to empower myself and him with whatever knowledge and experience I might have to share.

Though he himself will never be a yoga practitioner, my practice and knowledge of yoga has enabled communication between us.

I have learned to listen patiently to his complaints and distress, have some appreciation of the elements that now make life difficult for him, and try to give advice on possible ways to deal with his issues.

He may not follow through with much advice I give, but he will go to a yoga class with me during visits and he even listens politely to the philosophies of acceptance and contentment for what is and not what was or could be.

He continues to find aging miserable and this makes me sad, but I have to believe that these small encounters of communicating about his aging process gives us pathways to deal with it in our own ways together.

We all are our own beings. We all have our own journeys. Our job is to travel our individual journey as best we can and support those we love through the journey they are on.

As sons and daughters becoming caretakers of our parents, we must turn to our own life practice to develop and maintain the patience and compassion we need in order to accompany them on the final phase of their journey.

Listen with compassion, empower yourself and them with advice or suggestions, but then let it go. With love and respect, enjoy and engage in the time that is left.