What I Learned from Visiting my 81 Year Old FatherMay 23, 2022
Before I get into the lessons I learned from visiting my parents recently; you need to know a few things.
- My father, 81, is struggling physically and had to make the decision no one wants to make: put their spouse of 58 years into long-term care.
- My mother, 77, suffers from late-onset Alzheimer's.
- I am their only child.
Twice a year, I fly from my home in Houston, Texas, to where they live - south of Orlando, Floria, to help Dad do what he needs to do but can't and visit Mom (who still remembers me).
Here are some lessons I gleaned from my most recent visit.
Just because you know something (or learn it quickly) doesn't mean the person (whatever age they are) will.
Pro tip: go at the speed the person can absorb what you're saying.
As you teach or talk, allow time for the other person to "get it." Everyone is different.
Know when to stop pushing.
For several years, I've been trying to convince Dad to stop writing checks for his monthly bills (which went back to when Mom did them). It was a source of stress for him but needed to be done.
Over the years, he appeared to be open to it but then would tell me, very clearly, no. Although it was difficult to let this go, I reluctantly did.
But I would always broach the subject whenever I could.
He finally agreed that getting on auto-pay would be best for him on this latest trip.
Which means leads me to...
Do it for them.
I didn't tell Dad how to set up auto-pay; I did it for him. So, while Dad still has to write checks for some items, his main bills will automatically get paid.
Give lots of love and praise.
I don't believe you can ever go wrong with loving and praising someone.
And it works very well for those you want most to help and even convince.
Note: this is not meant to be used as a manipulation tactic!
Be kind as you are patient with them as you teach or guide them.
Spoiler alert: people can't read your mind, and you can't read theirs.
Seek to understand what they're going through. There may be things troubling them that you have no idea about.
This is where love and praise can come in handy.
Be a good listener.
This is something I continue to struggle with.
I start to reply to someone when I think I have enough information - but they're still talking.
I have to remind myself to let the other person finish.
When I do this, I am amazed at what I learn. And more often than not, it changes my answer! Imagine that.
In case you missed it.
These are lessons that I learned from a recent visit with my Dad, but they will work with anyone.
Try using one or all of them the next time you talk to a fellow human being and see the difference they make.
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