Aging relatives. The tragedy of time
Aging is a multidimensional process, but more often the focus is on the medical aspect of late-age changes. However, for family members, the aging of relatives is a much more complex problem than the physical ailments and diseases themselves. Relatives often find it difficult to cope with feelings of irritation, guilt, to overcome alienation.
Aging of relatives is not only a part of their life cycle, but also a part of the family life cycle. Aging relatives require special treatment, care and love. The situation of aging relatives is normal, all families meet with it one way or another, and each family must get out of this crisis. How? It depends on a number of factors: the previous relationship of family members, their tolerance, selfishness, empathy, maturity, anxiety, financial condition of the family, the characteristics of employment, etc.
It is important to inform family members about the phenomenon of old age, its physiological, emotional and existential nature. Without knowledge of this problem, it is difficult for relatives to build functional, careful relationships with aging relatives. Old age is characterized by some features of the internal and external order, one of which – the closeness of death.
This is a stage of human life, beyond which there will be no next. The world of an aging person does not expand, but narrows. For this period of life is characterized by the fact that the question of attitude to death is translated from the subtext into the context of life itself. In process of loss of forces, increase of weakness, feeling helplessness and uselessness the space of the person is filled more and more with intense dialogue between life and death.
Thoughts about death are actualized not only by involutional processes, but also by the way of life of the old man. Subjectivity, detachment from momentary social stimuli, weakness or complete lack of motives in achieving success, comfort also concentrate human consciousness on death. This is a time of awareness of the tragedy of temporality by all family members.
The nature of aging is individual and it should not be overshadowed by the General similarity of the changes occurring to all people.
With aging relatives need a thoughtful and heartfelt approach. In the body and psyche of each person aging processes occur at different speeds. In addition, aging does not necessarily have to be associated with degradation and disease.
Old age brings not only negative emotions. For many people, old age is a time of well-deserved peace, awareness of a well-lived life. Children of aging parents often experience the aging of their parents. While a person is growing up, his parents appear to him as omnipotent people on whom you can rely in everything. In the future, the illusion of omniscience and omnipotence frustrated, children lose confidence in parental power. The change that old age brings is a blow to the feelings of family members.
In some families, the topic of old age is not touched at all, in the mind there is no idea that parents can grow old. Children whose parents grow old, gradually begin to be orphaned with still living parents, and should become parents for their parents. Not everyone is ready to accept the idea that the same state awaits them in the future. This is a time to rethink your attitude to life and take more responsibility.
First, adult children go through a period when their eyes parents, recently full of life, begin to lose strength, intellectual adequacy and self-confidence, become anxious, touchy and picky. The reaction of children to all these manifestations is anxiety and sadness. With a lack of love and respect in the family, children have anger, irritation and sometimes even hatred towards aging parents.
Joseph Ilardo describes emotions that are typical of children whose parents begin to age before their eyes. At first, the signs of aging surprise and amaze loved ones. The mother of one of j’s clients.Ilardo, in the recent past, carefully watching her appearance and making caustic remarks about the toilets of other women, for some time began to appear in public casually dressed and unkempt, which led her daughter into extreme confusion. Such indifference is usually not due to the fact that a person loses his powers of observation and does not give an account of his own actions, but to the fact that he loses his taste for life.
Sometimes children are unable to accept inwardly the real and bitter fact that parents have grown old. There is a reaction of denial, unwillingness to accept reality, and children prefer not to notice the manifestations of old age in their parents and behave as if nothing has changed. Someone stubbornly refuses to admit that parents are no longer the same as before, and continue to require them to reproduce the usual and convenient behavior for themselves, ignoring the needs of the losing power of a loved one. Such reactions appear in the first stages of aging. Relatives need time to adapt to the changes.
The irritation of children to the loss of physical strength, of vigor, of intellectual adequacy often hides fear, fear of the death of his mother and father. Behind the calls of children not to give up, to be cheerful, to be optimistic, not to succumb to moping, masked: “do Not dare to grow old, do not dare to die, I’m scared!”. Terribly. It is terrible to be orphaned, to be left without mom and dad. And scared of the fact that while parents are alive, they stand between their child and death. When the parents are gone, the person realizes that there is no one else “between”: you are next, your turn.
A subsequent group of reactions occurs after the realization that parents have actually become old. There may be a number of negative emotions – resentment, discontent, impatience, devastation. Such reactions often occur in cases where in the past there was no mutual understanding between parents and children.
There may be a reaction of “intellectualization”, consisting in the fact that children, being unable to withstand the severity of their experiences, begin to replace the natural sense of compassion with an in-depth study of the literature about the elderly, the search for good specialists and pharmacological agents. Adult children are not able to cope with their emotions, there may be nervous breakdowns. They can yell at their aging parents, treat them with disdain and show aggression.
The family is a system, and every system strives to maintain balance. Respectively, J. Ilardo considers different types of family reactions to new life circumstances either as corresponding to this goal (i.e. functional, healthy) or as contradicting it (dysfunctional, unhealthy).
The main idea of the author is that in the changed conditions, when the older members of the family cease to play the same role in it, become helpless and require increased attention, destructive is sometimes unconscious preservation of the existing family structure, the desire to maintain unchanged role-playing relationships. The author calls for flexibility and openness. It is desirable to distribute responsibilities among the younger members of the family, so that everyone uses their strengths.
Another conflict is related to the fact that a child becomes a parent to his parent (is responsible, cares, cares, neglects his own interests and needs), but the parents are still parents, and the children of their children, parents “positions do not pass” require to reckon with their opinion and desire to obey the parental authority.
Regarding the elderly people entering the last phase of their lives, it is necessary to carefully plan further actions to care for them. It is necessary to take into account all the options for further developments. First of all, it is necessary to take into account the wishes of the relatives themselves (if their reason is clear enough).
Aging relatives. The tragedy of time
In most cases, older people want to stay in their home as long as possible – everything is familiar and comfortable in their home, the house gives a sense of confidence and security. Older people do not tolerate change. Living together with an elderly person is associated with great responsibility.
It is necessary to think carefully about everything that can be done in the house in order to ensure its comfort and safety. It is necessary to make changes related to diseases of a relative: for the hard of hearing – to install a loud doorbell and a phone call, for the visually impaired – bright light and, if possible, use contrasting colors in the environment. The easiest way to understand what changes need to be made, if you take the place of an elderly person, try to look at the surrounding eyes.
When old people can no longer do without help in taking care of themselves, it’s hard for them and for loved ones. The body of the parent is taboo, especially if it is the body of the parent of the opposite sex. Then triggered and the prohibition of incest and experiences about what the most intimate manipulations with withered body by another. The line is crossed. It is important to understand the natural shame of the old man, to be delicate, but also natural.
Old age ends, a person enters the final phase of his life – the last days before death. People on their deathbed are in dire need of sincere human contact, they need honest and open communication. An important condition for the normal flow of emotions in this period is the openness of family members to each other.
If close people are open to genuine, not distorted psychological defenses contact with their aging and dying relatives, they begin to realize that there is something previously hidden from them that has a significant and profound meaning. This difficult process, ultimately, enriches, sweeps away the superficial and trivial from those who continue their life path.