How to Deal with Elderly Loved Ones’ Complaints and Ideas for Keeping Them Healthy, Happy and Safe
Are your elderly parents grumbling about boredom? Have they reached the end of their patience with staying in to stay safe from COVID-19? Perhaps your conversations always seem to revolve around their complaints about not being able to do the things they enjoy. Even parents who didn’t leave the house much before may be feeling the burden of being restricted. And, you likely worry that this may result in them slacking on safety standards. Many states are seeing some of their highest levels of coronavirus cases right now. And, our elderly loved ones remain at risk.
Of course, you understand where they’re coming from and know this has been tough. Loneliness and social isolation affect seniors disproportionately in “normal times”. And, the health risks of loneliness can be comparable to obesity or smoking. So, even though they may have been staying safe from virus risks, your loved ones may be facing a more hidden health risk.
For the short term, this has probably been a worthwhile balance. However, we have to think about how we can make this better for them especially if we’re asking them to continue the risk-management measures while things start to reopen.
Tips: When Your Parent Complains about Social Isolation
How we react can make a big difference in improving or harming our relationship. We know it isn’t always easy, especially when you’re dealing with personal stress and established family roles. So, our experts have some tips and ideas. You may want to start by looking at our Seven Ways to Get Your Elderly Parent to Stop Complaining. We cover a wide range of complaints, and many of the principles apply to different situations.
As we covered in our post How to Deal with Negative Parents, you should explore (i.e. listen for) underlying causes. We talked about this in our discussion of making sure your parents are staying safe at home when we noted that it is easy to overlook why they might really be going out. Are their practical needs really addressed? And, what about their social and emotional needs? Many elders suffer from a tech gap, so they’re not as connected to others when at home. Their social interactions may have previously revolved around chatting with the grocery store employees, visiting the bank weekly, and having coffee with other seniors at the local McDonald’s. They aren’t suddenly filling their schedule with Zoom happy hours and Google hangouts.
Many times the way we talk with our elderly loved ones inadvertently serves to make them feel helpless or worthless. Though they may be getting more dependent on us, they are not our children. This means it takes a different approach. Oftentimes, they need an outlet more than anything else. They may not be looking for solutions. Or, they may not be open to them until they feel they’re being heard.
However, you may be running out of patience as well. If you are dealing with your own stress and trying your best to care for them (caring for everyone, perhaps!), you may find yourself tuning out or snapping. We’re here to help you, whether you just need to share your frustrations or want to learn some new approaches. Get help from one of our Care Coaches:
All of us may feel we have a lot to catch up with after months of social isolation and it can be overwhelming. Our team created a Reopening Checklist you can use to prioritize and make plans. It also includes key safety FAQs. Let us know if you’d like a copy of the checklist and we’ll email it out to you!
As things begin to reopen, elders and those with health risks should be especially cautious. We recommend they check with their doctor about what activities are safe and precautions they should take. Most medical professionals offer telehealth visits and nurse consultations. They can help you determine any screenings or appointments you may have missed also.
Practical Ideas for Staying Active and Engaged: Physical Distancing without Social Isolation
Since most elders will need to continue practicing safety measures, maybe more so as things reopen, you may need ideas to keep the boredom at bay.
We took our 10 Things to Do During Coronavirus Social Isolation and expanded it into a big list of 40 ideas that appeal to a wide range of interests (grab your free copy below!). These can be fun to do if your loved one lives with you or they are helpful ideas if your loved one has a caregiver. If they don’t, consider hiring a companion (here is a video explaining the precautions companies like EasyLiving are taking when caregivers go into elders’ homes and how they can help during this time). Contact us at 727-447-5845 or 813-333-5020 if you need a caregiver companion in the Tampa Bay area.
Get our printable list of 40 fun and purposeful activities you and your loved ones can do while staying safe!