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.
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.