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Growing Closer with Age: Strengthening Elderly Parent-Child Relationships

How Can Family Relationships Best Be Improved - Great Eastern Life Malaysia

Do you remember when you were a child and your parents were your whole world? But, as you grew older, things started to change and somewhere along the way, you grew apart. Factors like work demands, geographical distance, evolving interests, generational gaps, and communication challenges often widen the divide between elderly parents and their adult children. It’s an undeniable fact that building good relationships, even between family members, requires work to bring everyone together. With that said, here are five valuable tips on how to reforge and strengthen the relationship you share with your parents:

1) Quality Time Together

One of the best ways to strengthen your relationship with your elderly parents is to spend quality time together. Set aside time each week to engage in activities that you both enjoy. This could be anything from going for walks to playing games or even hanging out over a cup of coffee together. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate plan because your parents will value how much of your undivided attention they have rather than the activities. Spending time together over food is a great way to build a bond with someone, so consider making time for family mealtimes whenever possible.

2) Respect Independence but Share Long-Term Plans

As your parents age, it's essential to strike a balance between providing support and respecting their autonomy. One way to achieve this balance is by openly discussing future plans, including housing and care arrangements. In many Asian families, such subjects may be considered taboo, but they are vital for ensuring your family is on the same page, especially in the event of unforeseen circumstances.

Changes in old age can be scary, especially if it involves having to move into a day care centre, or giving up the independence of being able to drive yourself around due to failing eyesight or reflexes. Your elderly parents may feel helpless in the face of these changes, and while you may be concerned, you should approach discussing these issues carefully. Involving your parents in these discussions that will impact their daily life promotes a sense of security, shared responsibility, ensures their wishes are respected, and helps them feel in control of their lives. It’s crucial to keep an open mind, avoid being judgemental or dismissive of their capabilities, and you shouldn’t impose your ideas on your parents either. Treat these discussions as a calm negotiation. Show them that you still respect them as your parents and want to help them fulfil their wishes while keeping them happy, healthy, and cared for.

3) Provide Emotional Support

Growing older comes with its own set of challenges like health problems, the loss of friends and family, and retirement. While you may be uncertain about how to alleviate these specific worries, the solution is sometimes as simple as being a good listener. In addition to emotional support, offering practical support, such as helping them with errands or appointments is also a good way to build a stronger relationship between you and your parents. However, the form of support that works best for you might not work as well for them, so do check in with them to ask what kind of help they would prefer. Ultimately, showing empathy and compassion for their struggles is one of the best ways to improve family relationships and build a stronger bond with your loved ones.

4) Health and Well-Being

Caring for your elderly parents extends beyond emotional support; it also involves nurturing their physical and mental well-being. You can do so by prioritising a healthy lifestyle. Encourage your parents to embrace a balanced diet, regular exercise, and sufficient sleep.

In addition to physical health, it's equally vital to be attuned to their mental well-being. Keep a watchful eye for any signs of depression or anxiety that may surface in their behaviour or mood. Isolation and life changes can sometimes trigger these issues, and if you notice any concerning changes, initiate a compassionate conversation with your parents and involve their doctor or a mental health professional if necessary.

Remember, addressing mental health challenges is an essential aspect of ensuring their overall well-being. Incorporating these aspects into your caregiving approach ensures that you're not only attentive to their physical health but also deeply concerned about their emotional and mental wellness.

5) Communicate More and Often

To strengthen family relationships, it's essential to maintain regular, meaningful communication with elderly parents. Reach out through phone calls, video chats, or in-person visits, keeping the connection alive. On special occasions like Mother's Day, Father's Day, and birthdays, make the most of the opportunity to celebrate their presence with heartfelt gestures. This could include organising family gatherings, sending personalised letters, or planning surprise events that convey your deep love and appreciation.

In addition, consider offering practical support in various ways, such as helping with household tasks, providing transportation, or assisting in organising their affairs. Furthermore, demonstrating a sincere interest in their hobbies and passions, and engaging in activities that resonate with them, will not only strengthen your bond but also create cherished moments together.

Embracing technology as a means to stay connected is crucial in today's world, so take the opportunity to teach them how to use digital devices, turning it into a bonding experience that bridges generations. By following these tips, you'll not only create a closer relationship with your elderly parents during their golden years but also build enduring memories and a profound sense of gratitude for the precious moments you share together.

With all said and done, take a moment to reach out to your parents today and embark on the journey of nurturing an even stronger, more meaningful relationship with them. You could also take this opportunity to evaluate how you can care for their future well-being, as well as your very own, by subscribing to the right protection plans that are catered to your family's needs — because family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten, especially when it comes to safeguarding their happiness and health. But before all that, how about making the first move with a simple phone call to say "Hi"?

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Great Eastern Holdings Ltd | The Great Eastern Life Assurance Company Limited | Great Eastern General Insurance Ltd