Senior Living: Setting Bounderies With Family Members

grandmaA Guide for Seniors on Making the Most of Your Family Life

Families can be a source of great joy and happiness for most people, a place where we find love, give and receive support, and share in joys and sorrows. At the same time, a person’s family can be a source of difficulties as well. Differences in opinion, lifestyle choices, and personal needs and goals can cause strife and conflict within a family. Both of these aspects of family life affect senior citizens as well as family members of other age groups.

Maintaining Independence

Staying independent is often a major concern for seniors in their relationship with other family members. A healthy and supportive family will do whatever they can to respect and assist an elderly family member in making decisions about their own life. Even if the senior says they want to take up skydiving or playing golf, a family who loves and supports one another will not stand in the way of a member doing what they believe is best for their own life. Having a family like this is a big asset. Seniors who have families like this should take some of the credit given that they helped to raise the younger members of the family.

Sometimes, family members have the best of intentions of looking out for one another, but they get overly involved in another family members life, causing a feeling of emotional suffocation. When family members become too involved, it is usually out of misdirected concern or because they do not understand how to express their concern in a way that is most beneficial to all.

Role Reversal

Sometimes a reversal of roles takes place between seniors and younger family members and an adult child will start to act in a parental role by criticizing or lecturing a parent or grandparent on how they should live or what they should do. This can feel irritating or patronizing for the senior and make their life harder. Sometimes, the best way of dealing with this kind of situation is to understand that this behavior comes from a place of love and concern and then have a talk about it at a relaxed time. By setting boundaries with family members in a calm way, and at an appropriate time, family members can come to see that they need to back off and allow the senior to make decisions for themselves. The younger person may then find ways of being supportive that actually help, instead of hinder, the senior’s life.

In families that have members who become overly involved in a senior’s life decisions, spending time together can become problematic and stressful. By taking time to set clear boundaries about what is acceptable, and doing this at a time set aside especially for having this kind of talk, it is possible to improve this kind of situation and regain the joy and pleasure of spending time with your family.

Goals and Solutions for Conflict

Whatever kind of family you come from, striving to let other family members live their own lives, and not interfering with their decisions, is usually the best course of action. In this way, you can enjoy one another without creating resentment and conflict. When problems do come up, finding a quiet time to approach the problem in a compassionate way is much more effective than expressing your feelings in the midst of the conflict. All family communication requires give and take, respect, and compassionate listening for the resolution of conflicts and disagreements.

About Susan Day

Susan Day is a mother to two beautiful daughters and a grandmother to one adorable five year old boy. She is determined to live an active, happy life well beyond here current 70 years of age!