Are You Making Your Parents’ Life Better in the Older Part of Their Living?
If your parents are elderly and are living away from you, what could you do to make their lives meaningful and fulfilling? Read on to find out.
We have four relations who live with us closely for most our lives. It’s our parents, siblings, spouse, and our children. There are other relations too, including our friends and few colleagues who stay in our lives much longer, but those four relations are exceptional.
Two to three decades ago, we had families live together as a joint family, with siblings, uncles, aunts, children as a social norm. Over the years, because of many reasons, our macro family system has changed into micro families. Parents are bound to live alone, as their children have moved away to different cities or countries for professional reasons. Few are lucky to live close to their parents, enabling them to meet their parents as and when needed. Unfortunately, a few live too far from parents, including cities in the same country or other countries, making it harder for them to see their parents as needed.
With our lives becoming so self-centered along with micro-family social conditions, are we thinking enough about our parents? Are we caring about their wellness, happiness, and fulfillment in their final/older years of living? Could we empathize more towards their lives to enable better support for them?
This article intends to share a few thoughts on what children (of course, grownup adults, but still children for their parents!) could do who live away from their parents.
I am living away from my parents, but they are in the same country. What could I do to make their lives better?
- You could talk to them regularly over the phone. Remember, the conversation is more about your parents than you. Try to lend your ear more so you can listen to their living, not just what they are telling you. Of course, make it a video call whenever workable.
- You could travel as regularly as possible, meet them and try to spend an adequate number of days.
- During your parent visits, try to take them out to a few places (movies, parks, temple/church/mosque, restaurants). As elderly parents, they need to feel the fresh air, as they are at home most of the time.
- You could send them online gifts on various occasions such as their birthdays or wedding anniversaries. It could be a bouquet, cake or books if they have reading habits.
- If you have your friends who live close to your parents and have time to spare, you could have them visit your parents on your behalf.
- If they like watching TV programs such as web series, you may get them Netflix and Amazon type of subscriptions with good internet speed.
- You could bring them and keep them with you as much as possible whenever they are ready. It would be a pleasant change for your parents. Children’s holidays are the best times to bring them close to you.
- When you talk to your parents, let the discussion need not be just around transactional activities. Let it go beyond it. For example, if your parents are reading a particular book or watching a TV show/documentary, talk to them about it. It would open up their expression outlets more, leading to their mental peacefulness.
- If your parents are consuming regular medicines for their ailments (hypertension, diabetes, etc.), ensure they have them available always and timely.
I am living in another country, but my parents are in my home country. What do I do?
Living too far away in another country from parents is not easy. There are more constraints vs. living in the same country as parents. Still, we could do few things to better support them apart from the above list.
- Try to visit your parents as much as possible. Yes, travel expenses may become significant for many international locations. Still, one can come up with a regular travel plan, considering your financial goals. Sometimes it is just an illusion that you are spending more on travel affecting your financial goals.
- Make a photo or a video album of your significant activities, travels, occasions, and share with them. They would rejoice to look at them.
- Subject to their health status, you may plan to take them to your migrated country once in a few years.
- Use a pen, write a letter on paper, with a few thankful notes, and send them by courier or postal. They may find it very touching. They may also re-read them whenever they feel lonely and cannot talk to you (sometimes due to time differences across nations!). With all gadgets, easy access to chats and video calls, we tend to assume a lot. We believe all is well with everyone just because we text messages daily. But when you write it down, you may have the possibility to get curious about their living. Emails are also available but cannot beat a hand-written letter.
- While you may have all great intentions to take care of them well, but the distance may not work with you. Praying for them is also one pure way of caring. Sometimes, even our prayers will show us the ways.
- Play online games with your parents regularly. It could be as simple as chess games, word games, or brain games. Yes, this one needs time from everyone.
So, my parents are living with me at my/our home. Does that mean they are all good? Is there anything I could do?
You would only know the answer. If you don’t know, you may have to find out by listening to your parents’ emotions and feelings more. A conversation in more of listening mode would come a long way.
Sometimes, we shy away from even asking them if they are happy and need anything from us. Ask with courage, and that courage would only come when you genuinely care for your parents.
Summing it up:
I didn’t call out finance as an essential topic in the above list because I wanted to talk about it in the summary notes. To me, finance is very fundamental to be taken care of before anything else. That is because there are several things that your parents could get or have if they have financial needs fulfilled primarily. Of course, there are certain exceptions. Few parents may have taken care of their retirement living well, so they may not depend on you financially. In few other cases, parents may be healthy, and they may still work to make a reasonable earning.
We as spouses can contribute to each other as we take steps to care for our parents. It’s mutually rewarding.
The supreme purpose should be to serve them. We need to know what are our parents’ needs or wants. What are they desiring? Do they need any help? We shouldn’t force anything on them just for our sake or convenience.
Only when we build sensitivity towards their needs and yearning, we could understand their seeking. When we appreciate what they are seeking, we would develop better intentions and care towards our parents.
Let’s make a difference in our parents’ living and fulfillment. We certainly owe them!
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Originally published at https://vocal.media.