Parenting our elderly parents
Looking after our elders is as important as nurturing our young ones
A few years back in Kolkata, I happened to meet one of my favourite college professors.
I was ecstatic. I met her decades after leaving college and it felt really good. We invited her and her spouse, also a retired senior academic at Delhi University, for dinner. Both their children settled abroad, the septuagenarians were leading a quiet, contented life in Delhi.
But what her spouse said over the meal left me pensive for days.
“We are in the process of making arrangements for each other’s life in absence of each other,” he said matter of factly. Disposing off the huge ancestral property in Kolkata formed part of that exercise as they realised failing health, memory and reflexes would make it difficult to manage with every passing year.
I was left thinking how our parents who live their whole lives with a one point program of providing the best of everything to their children tend to slowly fade away. While the children grow up to do their own things, chasing their dreams, moving to greener pastures, the elderly parents are more often than not left behind basking in the glory of their well placed children in distant lands.
The interactions with my professors that night brought about two developments in my life.
Apart from monitoring my elderly parents’ lives more closely I made a list of all senior relatives and friends’ parents (some of whom were living on their own) and started connecting with them over calls, visits or even text messages. What I got in return has filled my life with overwhelming bounties of warmth & blessings.
As a parenting coach training parents to understand & connect with their children better, I also started doing exclusive customised sessions for professionals with elderly parents called -’Parenting of our elderly parents’
For it’s not just our children who require nurturing but even our seniors who slowly start moving into their childhood years- becoming more and more dependent and vulnerable.
These sessions often prove rather emotional- leading to moist eyes and guilty smiles- as participants realise how the time with their elderly parents is limited and unpredictable.
Sharing here a helpful checklist to ensure we keep our parents among our top priority despite all our professional & personal engagements.
What are some of their physical & emotional requirements that we need to keep in mind?
How do we create an effective support base around them in our absence?
What are the red flags that we must look out for?
What one action are we doing daily to make them feel important in our lives?
Nurturing or looking after our seniors whether parents, in-laws or even neighbours, I feel, is a triple win.
It makes them feel wanted even in their sunset years; makes us feel good about ourselves and helps imbue invaluable lesson in our children who learn most by observing their parents.
Do you have elderly parents?
What is one thing that you do daily to make them feel important and loved?