Do You Have Patience with Your Aging Parents?
Slow down, you move too fast.
You got to make the morning last.
Just kicking down the cobble stones.
Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy.
~ Paul Simon & Art Garfunkel
Lately I’m more aware than ever of how fast our society moves, and how we are living at an ever-accelerating pace. People want and expect instant action, access and/or results in so many realms of life!
We eat at fast food restaurants. We buy ready-made food at the market. We watch movies at home “on demand.” We drive 70 mph on freeways and pay tolls electronically via “FastTrack” devices. TV news broadcasts nearly always start with “Breaking News.” At Disneyland, the “happiest place on earth,” we purchase a “Fast Pass” to avoid waiting in long lines. Immediacy and speed define our world.
We can be reached by phone, whether home or away — and now even in foreign countries. Cell phones allow us to be forever connected . . . and the people who are calling us are asking for a fast response back. If they reach an answering machine at our home or office, instead of leaving a message, they’ll call our cell phone — if they even called our land line to begin with. And if leaving a phone message won’t suffice, they’ll then attempt to reach us by text, email, or Facebook chat — thanks to iPhones, Blackberries and other PDA’s. Immediate connections rule.
I fear as a society we are losing an important character trait called “patience.”
In business the same frenetic rules apply. People have learned many companies are reachable 24/7 thanks to the internet, and customers expect answers to their questions or problems as soon as possible. A business person recently told me they answer all customer queries within 24 hours — and this is in an industry that is not “life or death” by any means!
As these business owners stay in constant contact with their customers, they are thereby training these customers to expect instant replies from other businesses as well, and not to be satisfied if they don’t get them. An ever-increasing cycle of higher expectations and faster responses grows.
How does all of this relate to being a family caregiver?
As caregivers we need to realize our aging parents (aka Golden Oldies) don’t live in a world ruled by this accelerated pace of life. While they may use computers or cell phones (although many don’t), they aren’t tied to them, and the instant gratification gained by using technology, in the same way baby boomers, Gen X, Gen Y and the millenial generations are.
As family caregivers, we need to be mindful of this and adjust accordingly when caring for or even just visiting our aging parents. We must embrace the character trait of patience when we’re with them, caring for them and during our interactions with them. It is necessary to shift into a lower gear when entering their world. It is unkind, and creates tension in our relationships with them, if we try to force them to function in our much faster moving world.
It really won’t be harmful to our health to slow down for a day, or even for just a few hours, when spending quality time with them. Enjoy slipping into their world — where you can still find phones with cords, analog clocks, an AM/FM radio and TV’s that are large boxes that don’t hang on the living room wall. Shut your cell phone off for a few hours when you’re together and enjoy the peace it affords.
Don’t expect your aging parents to move at a fast pace, eat quickly, or even think as fast as we have become accustomed to doing. We need to s-l-o-w down and embrace the easier, more gentle pace they live in when we’re around them. It gives us caregivers time to “stop and smell the roses.” Yes, the amount of time we spend with them is important, but also how we spend that time together also counts.
Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan doesn’t cut it by Golden Oldie standards. For their generation this is what mattered: taking the time to make a decision, weighing the options, figuring out the best, most efficient and probably the most economical way to accomplish something. Despite the fast-paced lives we lead, a slow and deliberate approach is still a good alternative to just doing it.
“We say we waste time, but that is impossible. We waste ourselves.”
~ Alice Bloch
Embrace the opportunity to relax and decompress with your Golden Oldies — don’t avoid it. They give you the time and space to do so when you’re with them — they are experts at it, so learn from them. It gives you time to re-charge your batteries before heading back out into the ever-accelerating, fast-paced world we live in.
And whatever you do, don’t make them speed up — ain’t gonna happen! Meet them in their world, appreciate and honor it.
You must have been warned against letting the golden hours slip by; but some of them are golden only because we let them slip by.
~ James Matthew Barrie
I’d love to get your thoughts on having patience in the comment section below. For starters, do you or don’t you?