Often when our children are young, their grandparents are still fairly fit and active. Many are still working and enjoying a busy social life, and health concerns are minimal, especially if they, or we, were young parents. This can mean that they can enjoy time with young grandchildren, and even care for them alone. But as grandparents start to get older, things can start to change. Their health may deteriorate, they may develop worrying symptoms, mobility might decline, and they might even move into an assisted living community. If your children are used to fit, active grandparents, these changes can seem sudden and be confusing. It’s important that you speak to your children about this process so that they aren’t scared and know what to expect. Here are some tips to help you.
Know Your Stuff
The first thing that you should do before you speak with your children is make sure you know what you are talking about. If your parents have recently moved into senior living in John’s Creek, GA, make sure you know what their life there is like. If they’ve been diagnosed with a condition, make sure you understand what might happen down the line. Aging isn’t a straight line; it’s different for everyone. So, make sure you speak to your parents, and understand where they are, before you have a conversation with your children.
Talk About Age Generally
Aging is a normal part of life. Talk to your children about all aspects of aging, and how it happens to all of us and is something that we should be glad of. Talk about common issues, and the normal stages of life, so that nothing is a shock. Within these conversations, talk about where their grandparents are.
Keep the Conversation Going
This shouldn’t be a one-off conversation. You should talk often about aging, the elderly, and your parents specifically so that large changes never seem to come out of the blue. This is especially important if you don’t see your parents face to face for long periods.
Don’t Hide Things from Them
If your parents are suffering from a health problem, or have received an upsetting diagnosis, don’t be tempted to keep this from your children. How much you tell them should depend on their age, level of maturity, and understanding, which you are the best person to judge, but don’t just let them think that everything is fine, as this will only increase upset and confusion later on.
Answer Their Questions
Give them time to ask any questions that they might have, about their grandparents, or aging more generally, and answer as honestly as you can. If there’s something that you don’t know, make sure you do your best to find out for them.
Keep Grandparents Included in Your Lives
Visiting grandparents, talking on video calls, and keeping them a big part of your life are some of the best ways to keep your children in the loop.
Aging is inevitable, and something to be celebrated. But from a child’s point of view, it can be scary and hard to understand. Talk about aging often, and make sure you answer any questions that they might have honestly so that they are never worried about seeing your parents.