I'm Just Fine. Thank You for Asking.
Have you ever heard this or something similar from your Dad? As Father’s Day approaches I am reminded of the different approaches that we take with our aging parents.
Mother’s Day is often a day of warm, fuzzy sentiments, flowers and perhaps a gift certificate shared over Brunch while Father’s Day is often downplayed quite a bit more. Gifts are typically simpler - ties, socks, perhaps a biography? Maybe dropping in but not necessarily making arrangements to get together for a meal… People sometimes feel awkward with expensive gift giving and emotional celebrations for their Dads. Adult males, particularly, have a tougher time with these kinds of observances. It just isn’t quite as comfortable. Dad may have been more of a patriarchal authority figure and, in an effort to show our respect and appreciation, we may actually be missing his need for some added assistance.
You may be secretly concerned about your Dad but you don’t want to cross the “formality fences” that were likely erected years ago. . .
This certainly doesn’t apply to everyone but I have seen it played out in a few of the families that I have worked with. Sons and daughters will readily and expansively offer to do things for Mom but may be a little more reticent with Dad. Mom may also have a few more supports in her personal network who can add to her sense of community but Dad may be feeling more isolated as he ages. He may be unwilling to personally reveal much in case it’s perceived as a sign of weakness.
Chances are your Dad grew up in a time when vulnerability did not communicate strength. Tears were discouraged and communications were couched in formality. Handshakes, not hugs were frequently the norm.
Even these days, adult sons and sometimes daughters-in-law are left mostly in the dark, not wanting to broach topics that may not be welcome and possibly diminish Dad’s sense of autonomy.
Does this seem familiar?
Is your Mom or possibly a sibling concerned about your Dad as well?
Can you approach this jointly from a perspective of wanting to make sure that Dad is able to continue doing the things he enjoys? Is there a way to help ensure that his current level of independence can be maintained?
I find that it helps too to ask questions that can’t easily be shut down with a simple yes or no response, or, as the title of this post suggests, “I’m Just Fine. Thank you for Asking”. There are no magic words or phrases but you can use open ended questions and emphasize that you would like to help out, not take over.
Ask his advice. Remind Dad of his strengths and abilities to make wise choices for the family.
Are there services that could be obtained or purchased that would allow your Dad to keep his independence as long as possible?
If Dad or both parents are able to stay in their home with some supports, look at how this can be accomplished?
You may also be in a situation where your parent’s emerging needs are rapidly shifting. Are you aware of the services, supports and housing options that are currently available?
Gathering information and doing some preliminary groundwork ahead of a crisis can help everyone feel more in control.
Often, what seems an impossible climb is just a staircase without the steps drawn in ~ Robert Brault.
Laurie and her team of allied professionals at Moving Seniors with a Smile Inc. may be able to help your family with those steps. For your free consultation in the GreaterToronto Area, please call Laurie at 416-697-8106 or e-mail email@example.com
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