Your home environment greatly impacts relationships inside and even those nurtured outside its four corners. Many families now consider having grandparents or elderly relatives stay with them at home, making the unique brand of tender, loving care for seniors a necessary ingredient for a home in harmony. Respect for the elderly is hallmark of Filipino culture, but whatever country you’re in, making every single member comfortable, welcome, and loved should be what puts the “sweet” in “Home, Sweet Home.”
Considering having your elderly parents stay with you for the long-term? Here’s a set of do’s and don’ts from Dr. Joshua Coleman, an internationally known expert in parenting families and relationships and a psychologist with private practice in the San Francisco Bay Area. Say yes now and make your house a home for them!
1) Not too old for rules!
You’ll be making a lot of adjustments and changes to accommodate those in their golden years, but it would be an advantage if you first let them know your house rules. Don’t be too hard on them as you also want to minimize the possibility of conflict.
2) Talk it out.
Again, it’s a must to talk first about how you run the house before they move in and remind them about your agreements from time to time. You want to have a peaceful environment at home, so don’t be shy – tell them! Oftentimes, our elders are a lot wiser compared to us, so don’t sound talk down on them like they’re toddlers just because they depend on you a lot. Remember to go back to our primary rule: Respect.
3) No grudges, please.
No to silent wars! No, really, don’t just be silent if you see something wrong. Gently tell them to approach you if you have actions that bring them discomfort. Always keep communication lines open and let them know they are respected and that their presence matters.
4) Give in to their preferences but…
Take note of tip # 1. As much as they had allowed you to live comfortably when you were young and you were the one dependent on them, return the favor now by making sure they have everything they need and sometimes, you can even spoil them. If you can’t give in to their requests, talk it over and negotiate.
Kathleen Faye Arroz, 23, who works for a doughnut shop, shared: “Lola makes sure that we will eat our breakfast every day that we don’t usually do. She always gets angry if we can’t. For her, going home after six is very late. So if we can, we make sure to go home early to stop her from worrying.”
Sometimes, grandparents can even be the catalyst for good changes to happen at the homefront.
5) Let them know how they can help.
At their age, grandpa and grandma dislike the idea of not being able to contribute to the household. Keep them busy too by pointing out small things they can do for specific family members or for the entire household. Make sure the tasks are not too physically taxing or something they would find tedious.
6) Make them feel loved, welcome, and cherished.
Include them in your plans. Assure them that they belong, that they are not a burden. Because of age, some grandparents are extra sensitive, so for a win-win relationship, always make them feel that they are and always will be a part of the family.
Living with their grandmother at home, Kathleen Faye, shares that “we just did a little adjustments having Lola with us since she always visits us. If before we bought our groceries in SM supermarkets, now we buy it at our town market to make sure we can buy her a tobacco. We also did an adjustment in our lifestyle.”
Kath added, “I’m just very happy having Lola with us. I always get a chance to hear her words of wisdom about life and love. Adjusting for her is not a burden for us. It was a fun adjustment. If there is a mama’s girl, I’m a Lola’s girl. There’s just one thing I’m not used to: The smell of her tobacco.”
Nixon Balandra, a mathematics teacher, and his family were the ones invited by his grandparents to stay with them. “Since my grandparents loved me so much, living with them in the same house was full of happiness and contentment. I think there were no adjustments at all because I grew up with their love and acceptance. It even came to a point that they were spoiling me already.”, he comments.
So, smile, go home, and give your resident senior a big hug! He/she is the pot of gold in your home.