by Lawrence J. J. Leonard
After years of struggling with old people, old souls, and old habits,
I have discovered a mindset that, when engaged,
puts a fresh perspective in getting on the good side
of misunderstandings, arguments and friendships when conversing with an aged Adult.
Anyone over 21 years is somebody’s child = an adult child, even if there are no parents.
The following may be extremely helpful for adult children who care for aged parents in need, caregivers, volunteers,
certified senior advisor (CSA), customer service personnel,
investor relations agents, retail salespersons, or
anyone who converses with an older adult for any reason.
Success for a meeting of the minds is in having an appreciative and compassionate attitude.
Here are 12.5 ways in which a “Loving Parent” Mode can make your conversations with older adults (not “seniors”) more effective and valuable:
1. Know that you are now in charge of an adult audience. The ONLY way to avoid arguments is to understand that YOU
represent benevolence and charm and patience and are not easily rattled. Smile and inhale. It makes them happy and also wonder why.
2. You must see yourself as the Party Host every minute and in every location. She/ he/ they are all your special guest(s), even when you are in that “personal space” of theirs, so be a gracious host.
3. Leave them plenty of time to react and say things which may eventually be considered by you as unnerving. The reaction may not make any sense in comparison to a normal adult conversation. You may be hoping for a response such as: “How nice you look today.” Just don’t expect it.
4. Anticipate that they will leave a mess, even when they promise to clean up.
This is just as true of twenty-somethings as it is of gramps.
5. You already know that they will be demanding, so be sure to have options picked out for them before you ask for their responses on activities and issues. Think ahead and do NOT get angry when they get angry. Sometimes a “roar” is about exercise and not you.
6. When you share something about yourself, express it with gentleness and grace. You will be heard but not reacted to, or, you will be contradicted, or, you will be told not to be so intense. Just enjoy their company. They are not your free therapists. They have troubles of their own, so listen to them.
7. When you want something done, make sure to ask for it with a timeline and a consequence.
Eg. – “Can you wipe down the table in the next few minutes, before I get done with the dishes?”
No matter the answer, happily inform them: “If not, I can do it myself.” This way you can avoid arguing about promises.
8. If you are caregiving, have a calendar for the sweeping and mopping, for clothes washing and drying, and for any bill paying. Then when you visit, you can say, “Hey! It’s (Activity) Day. I brought my (pen, gloves, basket) so we can get that out of the way first, and then we can have coffee and talk.”
9. If you have had a hard day, week, month, and don’t feel appreciated, review #1.
10. You are not a money machine. So please do not solve problems by springing for “hamburgers” or “pizza” or “a loan with no collateral” or “the tab.” Your job is to make people feel good about themselves by being a good listener, not to rescue them from stupid choices and insolvency.
11. Always be encouraging. The more you support other people’s activities, the more they will tell you how much or how little they like what ***they*** are doing. Especially when you ask them about it. Do not judge their activity. You can share details about an activity that you are doing and maybe it will get some traction.
12. You are always being recorded, therefore SLOW DOWN. Each good thing is being watched. Plus all the bad ones, too.
a Slow your pace when reacting to something you feel negative.
Use your listening skills. Enjoy the pregnant pause. Ask a question: “Are you angry with ME?”
b Slow your driving no matter where you are headed.
Exceeding the speed limit means you are not paying attention to your passengers.
c Slow your decision making. Ask others what they think (not about your personal choices) about helping out with tasks or finding a service person can help you.
You may end up spending less time and less money tackling a chore or project.
BONUS 12.5. The most important is the least important. This means that it truly is the little things that separate us from people who bark orders or demean service people.
Be genuine about questions that involve their health, or activities, or struggles.
If you get a welcoming reaction and/or supplemental questions, great.
If not, move on, knowing that you are there to be in the “Loving Parent” Mode for someone or several
who might not ever receive from anybody else this wonderful gift of caring which you are supplying.
Copyright © 1960-2017 Lawrence J. J. Leonard All rights reserved.