10 Duties We Have Towards Our Parents When They Get Older

Have you ever given any thought to the responsibilities we have toward our aging parents? I'm not discussing lawful commitments (which there truly aren't any). I'm referring to obligations that are moral and ethical. I've given it a lot of thought, especially considering how many things our parents give up when we were young to improve our lives. I truly believe that when our parents reach their "golden" years, we owe them the ten things listed below.

What Do We
Owe Our Parents When They Get Older?

I want to share with you a wonderful quote from Tia Walker, co-author of the book The Inspired Caregiver, before we get into our responsibilities toward our parents as they get older. "One of the highest honors is to care for those who once cared for us," Tia declares. I wholeheartedly agree. Consider the following "duties" as ways to accept that high honor.

1. Treat
them with dignity and respect

Treat your parents with the respect and dignity they deserve first and foremost. This duty is embodied in nearly everything that follows, but because it is so crucial, it must be stated upfront. Everyone on this planet, from the youngest to the oldest, has the right to be treated with respect. While respect, on the other hand, should be earned rather than freely given, I believe we can all agree that our parents have more than earned it.

2. Don’t
treat them like children

We often treat the elderly in our society like children. On the off chance that you don't really accept that me, the following time you go out to shop or to an eatery, focus on how representatives and servers converse with little children. Then, stand by listening to the tone they use with elderly folks. Again and again, you'll track down that it's precisely the same tone. This is referred to as "infantizing" them, and the Huffington Post's excellent post by ethics expert Randall Horton explains why it is so demeaning.

3.  Listen to them

At the very least, your parents listened to you for 18 years (though probably much longer). When you were a toddler, they patiently answered your 10,000 "why" questions. They were truly interested in your absolutely fascinating story about a bug you saw in kindergarten's playground. They listened to you rant and rave about everything from unfair teachers to unreasonable curfews when you were a teen.

Now is your chance to pay attention to them. Yes, even if they repeatedly tell you the same story. After all, how often did they have to hear about that bug on the playground?

4. Make time for them

As adults, we become so busy that we frequently forget to call or even visit our homes on a regular basis. It works out, and it doesn't mean you're a terrible child or little girl. You now have a "life of your own," as your parents are aware. However, they ought to be included in that life more.

When you forget their birthday or call late on Mother's Day, they secretly cry for every time you smile and say, "It's okay, honey." Our parents owe us time. After all, for the majority of our lives, they gave us nearly every moment they had.

5. Advocate for them

Advocacy basically means standing up for your parents, from speaking up when a doctor dismisses your mother's medical concerns as "just part of aging" to voting for candidates who protect the interests of the elderly. Keep in mind all the times they defended you against unfair teachers, bullies, and others. If your parents are unable or unwilling to defend themselves, do so on their behalf. They'll need your help more and more as they get older. You need to do this especially for parents with dementia because their voices typically get "lost" the most.

6. Take notes from them

This is truly a win-win situation when it comes to our responsibilities to our parents when they reach adulthood. Your folks will cherish investing energy with you. They "win" because they can teach you secret family recipes, tell you stories about their past, and just impart their knowledge. You'll "win" because you won't be sad when they're gone. You won't regret not asking dad about his time in the war or how to make mom's well-known sauce. Because they will have a stronger sense of connection to the history of their family, your children and all subsequent generations will be considered "winners."

7. Educate them

Naturally, teaching them is the other side of learning from them. We believe that the elderly are like old dogs in that they are incapable of learning new "tricks." Older people and technology are always the subject of jokes.
Teach grandpa how to use Skype instead of turning his lack of proficiency into holiday gag material. He wants to know more. He wants to keep up with you and feel like he can relate to your interests. Just keep in mind to be patient. When you were learning to ride a bike or, worse, drive his car, he was patient with you!

8. Check to see that they have a place to call home

This is really the only financial responsibility of all the ones we've discussed. Nevertheless, it is also one of the most significant. While we are not legally required to provide for our aging parents, we do have a moral responsibility to ensure that they do not become homeless. Accept it if that means letting them live with us. Your work is not finished if they decide to live in a nursing home or retirement community. A house is more than just a place to live. They ought to be treated well and in a comfortable setting.
Sadly, you may need to work harder to get that done based on your racial and cultural background. “Older Hispanics are more likely than their non-Hispanic white peers to reside in nursing homes that are characterized by severe deficiencies in performance, understaffing, and poor care,” according to a 2013 study.

9. Understanding and honoring their preferences

Respecting our parents' wishes and letting them go when they ask is one of the most difficult responsibilities we have toward them as they get older. That should still be a long way off, hopefully. For the time being, it is your responsibility to sit down with them and talk openly about their wishes. Please do not postpone it. I know it's a difficult subject, but it's better to talk about it now than to try to make a decision based solely on emotions later.

10. When we assist them, don't keep it a secret from them

Last but not least, you have a responsibility to fulfill all of the preceding obligations without putting pressure on your parents. Don't keep harping on about how much you're giving up by letting them live with you. When you teach them something new, you should not act arrogant or superior.
However, the most important thing to remember is not to treat them as though you are doing these things for them out of obligation. Our parents are not merely "obligations." They were the ones who brought us up and made sacrifices for us. They are our "everything owes." "Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art," Eleanor Roosevelt said. Let's treat them as if they were treasures and works of art.