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What can we learn from caring for aging parents or loved ones? I believe there are four factors we need to understand so we can better interact with them. The four key challenges to caring for aging parents are:

1.     Time. Everything takes longer, because often the elderly are not as mobile and flexible. They need longer to get out of the wheelchair, to walk across the hall, to drink a glass of water.

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2.     Processing. Most older minds take longer to process what is happening or what is being said, and the more complex the activity, the instruction, or the conversation, the more it takes to process and then act on it.

3.     Respect. They all want to be respected. They need to know they are not just another body on what for many seems like the conveyor belt of health care.

4.     Fear. There often will be an element of fear in more aging parents. Whether caused by the setting, language issues, the nature of illness and treatment, or whatever: most will have anxieties and fears that while often unexpressed will cause them to either withdraw or become even more assertive.

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In writing the original edition of Parenting Your Parents in 2002 and the subsequent revised second edition in 2005 and US edition in 2006, Bart Mindszenthy, APR, FCPRS, LM drew upon personal experience with his elderly father and mother, listening to hundreds of people deep into eldercare, plus his professional expertise in managing crises. Boomers can best help themselves and their parents by planning, understanding the challenges and being prepared, he says.The new, North American edition, Parenting Your Parents: Straight Talk about Aging in the Family is his ninth book."Everyone who has aging parents should consider what issues and challenges lay ahead," says Bart. "Waiting until something happens isn't fair to anyone in the family. But the trouble is, in most families aging parents are in denial and their boomer kids are in avoidance," he says.Since the publication of Parenting Your Parents, Bart has addressed hundreds of groups and has appeared on dozens of radio and television interview and talk shows and national television specials. He is also a regular contributing writer to Hospital News (https://www.hospitalnews.com/columns/caregiver/). Bart also authored two books about family elder caregiving on his own in 2011: The Family Eldercare Workbook & Planner, a comprehensive self-directed complete guide to capture needed information and develop strategies for likely issues and difficult situations, and Aging Parents: 200+ Practical Support Tips from My Care Journey, a compilation of 40 columns that appeared in SOLUTIONS magazine tracking a range of specific caregiving issues and challenges with tips and tactics on how to deal with them; see www.famlyeldercareworkbook.com Bart holds a Bachelor of Philosophy degree with a concurrent major in journalism from Wayne State Univesity. He is Partner in The Mindszenthy & Roberts Corp., a Toronto-based firm with a subsidiary based in Michigan that since 1990 has specialized in issues and crisis communications management and strategic communications planning. Bart has received numerous awards for his work and is principle author of No Surprises: The Crisis Communications Management System (Bedford Press, 1988), which is considered a seminal work on the subject. He is also co-author of Leadership@Work: Be a Better Team Leader Anytime, Anywhere, with Anyone, originally published in 2001and which was the fifth best selling business book of the year in Canada. Since, it's been totally re-written, re-deisgned and re-issued in 2011. It's now also available as an iPad, iPhone and iPod app. For more, see www.leadershipatworkbook.com.