How to Stop Becoming Like Your Parents – The Caring Generation®
The Caring Generation® – Episode 118 December 29, 2021. On this episode caregiving expert, Pamela D Wilson answers the question How to Stop Becoming Like Your Parents? Parents do their best to raise children. But not all lessons about living a happy, healthy, old age are discussed when children are young because parents may not have learned themselves. What adult children can learn from the experience of aging parents.
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How to Stop Becoming Like Your Parents
Announcer: Caregiving can sometimes feel like an impossible struggle. Caregivers may be torn between taking care of loved ones and trying to maintain balance in life. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. The Caring Generation, with host Pamela D. Wilson, is here to focus on the conversation of caring. You’re not alone. In fact, you’re in exactly the right place to share stories and learn tips and resources to help you and your loved ones. So now, please welcome the host of The Caring Generation, Pamela D. Wilson.
Lessons Children Can Learn From Aging Parents
Watch More Videos About Caregiving and Aging on Pamela’s YouTube Channel
This is Pamela D. Wilson caregiving expert, speaker, consultant, and guardian of The Caring Generation. The Caring Generation focuses on the conversation of caring. Giving us permission to talk about aging, the challenges of caregiving, navigating the healthcare system, and everything in between. It’s no surprise that needing care or becoming a caregiver changes everything.
The Caring Generation is here to guide you along the journey to let you know that you’re not alone. You are in exactly the right place to share stories, learn about caregiving programs and resources to help you and your loved one plan for what’s ahead.
Invite your aging parents, spouses, family, friends, and co-workers who may be caring for their family to listen to the show. If you have a question or an idea for a future program, share your idea with me by responding to my social media posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linked In, or YouTube.
Daily Life is a Practice Field
Today, I’ll answer the question “how to stop becoming like your parents.” In life, there are no “do-overs.” There is a lot of trial and error and opportunity for practice. The lessons learned can pass us by until we reminisce years later and recall something—an event or interaction with another person.
Something that didn’t make sense then, but it makes a lot of sense now. Maybe that was advice that grandma or grandpa or someone else offered. You ignored the advice. Today you wish you’d listened—but the opportunity has passed.
Specific to caregiving, caregivers ask the question of “how to stop becoming like your parents” who have a lot of health issues, are constantly sick, or didn’t plan well for retirement. Today the consequences of a parent’s actions significantly affect the life of the caregiver and possibly their family. How to stop becoming like your parents?
I want to make it clear that we’re not talking about blame or criticism about what parents did or didn’t do. This show is about how to stop becoming like your parents so that you live a happier, healthier, better, and more productive life by learning about things that your parents may not have been able to teach you.
Caregivers Need Time for Self-Care
There is no simple answer. Each life situation is different. There are things, though that you can consider that can help you make better choices. Being a caregiver can be a struggle whether you’re raising young children or caring for an aging parent, a spouse, or yourself.
With so much to do and so many mental distractions complicated by technology, the time we have to be alone with ourselves to think, or plan can be non-existent. Being around other people is a distraction and can stop our brains from thinking clearly.
Caregivers tell me, “I’m too busy to make time for myself. I have too much to do.” If that’s your statement, stop complaining and asking others for their opinions or help. Instead, live with the consequences of not making time for yourself. Don’t expect other people to rescue you when the results of your choices don’t work out the way you wish.
Alone Time Recharges the Brain
Everyone needs self-care especially caregivers. Self-care alone activities include reading a book, walking, exercising, yoga, or meditation. These activities give you alone time to recharge your brain and think. Imagine that people who do this are investing in time alone to recharge rather than thinking if I’m alone I’m going to be lonely.
How many of you go to a movie alone or eat dinner at a restaurant alone. While this may feel like a bold move, try it. You’d be surprised what a confidence-boosting activity doing something by yourself can be if you look at the activity as a learning experience.
Health Conditions Are Not a Pre-Requisite for Old Age
How to stop becoming like your parents? Let’s talk about things that happen with age. If we have no life experience with grandparents or a parent, these are things we miss until we’re pulled into a situation where we have time to reflect and ask, how did this happen?
We’re going to look at ten areas that you might want to consider paying more attention to if you are wondering how to stop becoming like your parents. Number one for how to stop becoming like your parents is having a belief that health conditions are connected with getting older.
For example, when I am sixty, I will probably have arthritis and trouble getting around like most 60-year-olds that I know. You can choose to be old and healthy or old and sick. You can also be young and sick.
Choose to Live Differently
While some health conditions are hereditary, you choose through your actions to blame heredity and do nothing or you take action to avoid health issues that run in your family. The choice is yours. The idea that health is out of your control and is related to aging is a false belief that can lead to becoming like your parents if they have this belief.
Studies of older adults confirm many believe that heart disease, dementia, cancer, COPD, and diabetes happen because you get old. As a result of this belief, few adults talk to doctors about health concerns or ask about treatment options that could improve these conditions.
Instead, aging adults worry about losing their independence. They lose sleep over being a burden on others, but they take no action to plan to change habits or live differently.
Physical Activity Maintains Youth
Number two for how to stop becoming like your parents. Maintain your body, mind, and muscle strength and walk and move around every day for at least 30 minutes. Sitting all day is the worst thing you can do for your body. If you want to live a healthy, happy, and active life, you have to add physical activity every day into your schedule.
For aging parents, their physical weakness affects daily activities. How many of your parents have difficulty showering, dressing, going to the bathroom, standing to cook a meal, going out of the home to grocery shop, or cleaning the house. If you don’t know the answer to this question, you may want to ask your parents to avoid future surprises.
Don’t Let Fear Stop You From Being Active
Several health conditions can make any of these tasks difficult. For example, individuals with heart disease or COPD quickly become out of breath or tired with activity. When a person struggles to breathe, fear may exist about going out of the home. Fear may replace confidence about performing everyday activities that most of us take for granted.
For example, a parent who fell and broke a hip or was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease may limit physical activity. Doing less makes it more challenging to be physically active and can result in a higher risk for injury. So the idea of trying to protect yourself from something that you are afraid of can actually make the situation worse.
Maintain Friendships and Social Activities
Number three for how to stop becoming like your parents is to remain socially active with friends and in community activities where you live. Having health issues or becoming physically weak can make it difficult to leave home and go out and about in the world. Aging parents with vision or hearing loss may hesitate to leave home and may have more difficulty talking and recognizing other people.
While hearing aids or treatment for vision problems are solutions, I know many young and middle-aged adults who refuse to consider hearing aids or wearing glasses. Like we talked about earlier, others attribute vision problems to aging, hearing problems to aging, and don’t know that treatments exist for hearing, macular degeneration, cataracts, and vision loss.
There can be a sense of futility about not having control over health conditions. If you think this way, you’re more likely to become old and sick. End beliefs that you don’t have control over your life and your health. You have as much control as you take.
Regular Medical Care is Preventative
If you have a health concern, find a doctor you trust if you don’t have one. Do everything you can to reverse or manage the condition before it’s too late to do anything.
If your parents have difficulty getting out of the house to go to doctor appointments, find transportation, or take them to the appointment. Don’t let physical weakness become another excuse that limits the activities of your parents or yourself.
When older adults cannot leave home to participate in events or they give up an interest in making friends and socializing, they become more reliant on family members for daily contact and support. If you are a caregiver, you might be seeing this with an aging parent.
Working Maintains Purpose in Life
Loneliness and social isolation result in more health problems like anxiety, depression, and dementia. Hire a companion caregiver to take your parent for outings. Find a friend to take your parent for outings.
No matter your age, the more active you become and remain, including continuing to work after age 65, the better. Many of my clients tell me they are bored after they retire. If you retire, look for ways to volunteer in the community and remain active. The idea of having a reason to get out of bed in the morning is good for you physically and mentally.
If you are a caregiver, don’t let the excuse of caring for aging parents or a spouse be the reason you give up a job. That job may be the only thing that keeps you mentally going and that gives you a break from caregiving activities. Not to mention allows you to socialize and talk to other people.
By giving up employment before necessary, you can harm your health and financial well-being in the long run by limiting your income. In other podcasts, I talk more about giving up a job to care for aging parents.
Be Persistent About Good Health Habits
If you have physical health challenges, do what you can to keep working. Stay as active and engaged as possible. Don’t find reasons to give up on feeling better or doing more to improve your health. Be persistent. Remain mentally strong.
Number four for how to stop becoming like your parents is to find ways to manage your physical and mental health. This includes not attributing health issues to age but instead finding strategies to manage conditions.
For example, if you have a sports injury or arthritis, what can you do to increase physical flexibility and reduce pain? Things like physical therapy, stretching, yoga, walking are all options to manage conditions that have the potential to limit your life if you allow them to.
Commit to Living a Happy, Healthy Life
In addition to physical activity, focus mentally to change limiting attitudes and beliefs. Be positive and committed to living a happy, healthy life. How many people do you spend time with who complain about everything? Being with them can be emotionally exhausting or draining. They may constantly criticize others and breed doom and gloom with their negativity.
These doomsayers will cut years off your life if you spend too much time with them and allow their negativity to infect your thoughts. Although if you are a caregiver, these people may be your parents or a spouse. If so, then it’s time to set boundaries and strongly consider all of these actions to live a happy and healthier life.
Create a Support Network
So let’s look at number five for how to stop becoming like your parents. Building a support network of positive, inspiring, and happy people. We can get lazy by constantly asking the same people for help or relying on one friend.
Think about spreading your wings to expand your support network. Instead of relying on one friend, call and speak to five of your friends. If you don’t have five friends. Make five new friends.
Make the initial contact to reach out rather than waiting for people to contact you. Your friends or acquaintances may be in a similar position of relying on one or two people in their lives. Hearing from you may be a welcome opportunity to reconnect or establish a new relationship.
Think of building a support network in different ways. For example, if you like to walk or hike, find friends or companions or join a club of people who enjoy a similar activity. Have a group of friends to see plays or movies or exercise. It’s easy to become set in our ways when we only spend time with certain people.
Remain Open-Minded and Curious
We can also become judgmental of others outside of our immediate social circle. Let’s talk about politics for a minute. This is a very divisive topic in the United States. How many of you truly believe that Democrats and Republicans have nothing in common? The news and some politicians want you to think we live in a divided country.
Many people believe that people from one or the other party are wrong. I live next door to an individual who holds this belief and isn’t shy about insulting people who behave or believe differently.
I suspect that while many people have different political or other beliefs if you sit down and really talk to each other, you may find that you have something in common. I know many children who won’t speak to their parents because their parents have different political beliefs.
Sometimes talking to people with different views can be interesting and stretch the brain. Wondering how to stop becoming like your parents includes becoming more open-minded and more accepting of people who have different opinions. Consider that other people may have a few good ideas or information that might be helpful to you.
Plan for Aging Alone
Number 6 for how to stop becoming like your parents is to consider where you live. Families are becoming more geographically spread out. This means that when you age and need care, someone will have to take care of you. Who will this be? Like many parents today, are you are expecting your children to fly across the country to care for you?
Thinking about establishing social networks, do you have people who will help you if you reciprocate and provide assistance. If not, creating a helping network with people in your neighborhood or the area where you live is a good idea.
Aging alone is becoming more common in the United States. Everyone needs a plan to have someone or to be able to plan to pay to have someone to help you when you’re older so that you’re not depending solely on children or other family members.
If you’ve lived independently all of your life, it’s not practical to expect family you haven’t spoken to in 30 years to offer to care for you. Make plans today to be as self-sufficient as possible when you age. What is your plan for when you or your spouse dies first if you’re married?
While death may be difficult to discuss, it’s a practical topic. Look at your house. Will you want or be able to maintain it after your spouse dies? If not, do something about it sooner rather than later. Consider downsizing while you have a spouse to help you with this project.
Caregiver Support and Online Courses
We’re off to a break. If you’re struggling to care for aging parents or yourself, visit my website pameladwilson.com to check out my caregiver course online for how to help aging parents or yourself stay in your home.
The Caring Generation is not limited by time zone or location—caregivers worldwide can listen any time of day. This is Pamela D Wilson, caregiver expert, consultant, and author on the Caring Generation. Stay with me. I’ll be right back.
18:37:79 This is Pamela D Wilson, caregiving speaker, expert, and advocate on The Caring Generation program for caregivers and adults. Whether you are twenty or 100 years old, you’re in exactly the right place to learn about caregiver support programs, health, well-being, and other resources to help you and your loved ones plan for what’s ahead.
If you’re not sure how to talk to your children about caregiving issues, if you’ve tried to talk to your aging parents and that didn’t go well, let me start the conversation for you. Share The Caring Generation podcasts with family and friends. There are over 110 episodes. Visit my website, pameladwilson.com to find resources for caregivers, my caregiving library, blog, online courses, transcripts of these podcasts, and how to schedule a 1:1 eldercare consultation with me by telephone or video call.
Get the Care You Need
Let’s continue with tips for living a long, healthy, and happy life. Number seven for how to stop becoming like your parent depends on doing the opposite of what your parents may be doing relative to healthcare and medical care. Have your parents been health enthusiasts all of their lives? Doing everything to prevent illness and remain independent? Or are they old and sick because they had bad habits?
Is it possible your parents weren’t exposed to health prevention education and as a result didn’t expose you to health prevention? Health education is a gap in the United States. Whatever beliefs or habits your parents have about health, consider adding preventative health behaviors into your life.
Older adults are subject to bias and a lack of support from healthcare providers because they may not be knowledgeable or proactive about health. For example, many older adults report a lack of information or advice about health conditions, what diagnostic tests like blood work mean, what to do after being released from the hospital, and general information about managing health conditions.
Establish A Relationship With Your Physician
Doctors may not be as helpful if you’re older. If you don’t ask questions or take an active interest in your health. Seeing the same doctor is a plus, although, with changes in health insurance and turnover of doctors at medical practices, this may not always be possible.
Do you have a primary care doctor you see? If not, it’s time to establish that relationship with a doctor you trust for a check-up to see if you have any unknown health issues.
Number eight for how to stop becoming like your parents is to learn to set boundaries that don’t involve your children being the caregivers. If you’re a caregiver, you know what it’s like to make trade-offs between a career and earning income, taking time off work, or ending a job to care for parents. You may have postponed college, getting married, or having children.
How to Not Become Like Your Parents
If you’re doing too much to care for aging parents even though you believe it’s the right thing to do, you may have difficulties setting boundaries about reasonable actions that don’t harm aging parents, you, or your family. It is possible to find ways to make sure your parents receive care and not be the only caregiver who gives up everything.
How to do this? Consider numbers one through eight and start taking action today. Be balanced in your approach. Eliminate blame for what happened or didn’t happen. About who caused what. You’re in control now. Forgive yourself and forgive anyone else who wronged you, including your parents.
When you feel at peace with your life, it’s easier to make progress to focus on things you want instead of things you don’t want so that you can top becoming like your parents. Don’t say you don’t have time—make time.
Learning to set boundaries to care for parents, you, and your family equally is a goal to set. Depending on your level of involvement, you may have a bit of back-tracking to do because you can’t say, well, I’ve been doing this, and now I’m done— without providing options and resources for the care of a parent. That’s not realistic. You may have a little research and planning time ahead of you to come up with a care plan to relieve you of all the work you’re doing.
When I talk to young adults raising children they are caregivers, and they may not yet be caregivers of older parents. However, many experience challenges in family communication which is number nine for how to stop becoming like your parents.
Become a Good Communicator
How many of your parents were good communicators? Did you have family discussions about money, going to college, taking care of your health, and day-to-day responsibilities? In some families, communication is excellent. In others, communication within the family is minimal.
Parents tell children what to do. Children don’t speak back. Learning how to communicate within your family, in the workplace, and with friends is a skill that can ease many challenges in life. Communication takes work and practice.
When life moves so fast, we don’t think that every day is a practice run for learning something new or improving a skill. Think of one area or skill in your life that you’d like to improve. Then go back and think about situations related to that skill and do a little self-assessment.
Create Two-Way Relationships
Let’s use work as an example since that’s something that most of us have experience with. Are you in a situation where you enjoy working for your boss? If not, why not? If not, what effort do you put into establishing a positive relationship and good communication with your boss?
All relationships go two ways. Although we may not think so if we’re not in a position of perceived power like a supervisor-employee relationship or even a parent-child relationship. People are people. We get out of all relationships the effort we put in. Equal participation in relationships is best, but that’s not always possible or realistic.
There are times when we change, or the life situations of our friends change. We don’t seem to have as much in common, or we can’t spend as much time with each other. Or sometimes you may be the friend who gives more or less. The idea of giving and taking in relationships is an area where we can always get better by looking at what’s worked and not worked in our lives and make adjustments.
Evaluate Relationship Skills
Number ten for how to stop becoming like your parents is to look at lifelong relationship patterns in all areas. How you interact with people and what you can learn from these experiences. Who can’t use a few more friends or helpful people in their life? Especially as we age and begin losing friends and family to death.
Let’s go all the way back to the teenage years for another example that might help this make a little more sense. When you went on your first date, were you good at dating?
Being young and wanting to be liked has a steep learning curve, or at least it did for me. Most of our parents don’t teach us about dating or relationships because they may be struggling themselves. Were you on the receiving end of breakups, or were you the one breaking up and running away because of not being good at communicating feelings?
Learning is a Life-Long Experience
Did you ever consider that breakups aren’t fault-driven? That two people involved aren’t a good enough match for one reason or another and no one is to blame for that. But, with hope and persistence, we find the right person to last a lifetime if we’re lucky.
These are things that we as children expect our parents to teach us. But the reality is that our parents are still young when they’re raising us. They’re still learning. So the likelihood that they can teach us skills that can last a lifetime is pretty unlikely because they haven’t yet learned them, themselves.
Let’s talk about the term ghosting for a minute. How many of you have heard of that term? Ghosting happens when one person ends all communication and contact with another person without any warning. There’s no reason. The people refuse to communicate further.
Think about this. People who disappear from your life may be responding to rejection, or they may find it easier to cut off all contact than to work to maintain a connection. People who disappear may not realize the effect that ghosting has on other people. Or they may not realize the skills that they lack to avoid not having to ghost another person.
I talk about this because ghosting appears in a lot of family relationships. Many people I know have a sibling who just disappeared for no reason. Or another person in the family who disappeared and cut off all contact. Siblings who don’t want to care for aging parents can ghost the entire family.
It can take a strong brother or sister to set boundaries to say, “I don’t want to care for mom or dad. I’m not making excuses. I’d prefer it if you didn’t argue with me about this decision. It’s not something I can do. “
If a brother or sister makes this statement—rather than trying to negotiate how they feel— accept the statement and move one. You probably wouldn’t want someone trying to convince you to do something you didn’t want to do. This is an act that can preserve family relationships instead of just having people disappear out of your life.
Refusals Are Choices
On this topic of “refusals,” you may have aging parents who refuse to care for themselves or who agree to participate with your recommendations. Realize the person refusing “owns” their refusal and its consequences. Now with an aging parent or yourself, you may have to do some investigating to learn what the consequences of refusals are so that you understand or you can explain it to someone else.
But, if parents or anyone in your life choose to refuse —it’s not up to you to rescue them when things fall apart. Every day, all of us have the opportunity to practice new skills and that can include learning why we say no. Trying to understand why we don’t want to do something. What our motivation is. Why we refuse.
Learning takes time and effort, and anyone can refuse to change or learn new skills. But if you’re interested in how to stop becoming like your parents, find a little alone time every day to ponder the thought. Decide where you’re going to begin, and get started.
Parents aren’t perfect. They’ve had a lot of learning to do in their lives just as we do. When most of our parents were born, the technological advances that we have today didn’t exist.
Computers, cellphones—believe it or not, there was a time when only landline phones existed and some of you probably remember that. Even a time when there were no computers. A time when television was only black and white. Realize that every generation faces challenges and that aging is different for everyone.
Live Longer and More Thoughtfully
Medical advances keep people alive today much longer but maybe not with as much quality of life. If you see things that your parents do and don’t want to become like your mom or dad, be thankful for having the opportunity to change your habits, beliefs, and patterns and learn to live differently.
If we’re fortunate, we recognize that we have unlimited opportunities for learning and growth. Where will you be next month or next year at this time? Will you look back and be proud of your progress in your life or wonder why you didn’t get started?
It’s a big world out there—a big life. There are so many opportunities for people who remain open-minded, interested, and optimistic. Remain hopeful that life can always be better.
Thank you for joining me on The Caring Generation – the only program of its kind connecting caregivers and aging adults worldwide to talk about caregiving, well-being, family relationships. health, and everything in between. Invite your family and friends, co-workers, and everyone you know to listen each week.
I’m Pamela D Wilson, caregiving expert, eldercare consultant, and speaker. I look forward to being with you again soon. God bless you all. Sleep well tonight. Have a fabulous day tomorrow and a great week until we are here together again.
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