One of the keys to understanding our parents as they age is to get a grasp on the things that worry them. Our parents may not talk openly about these things, but you can be assured that they think about them—a lot. A recent study conducted for the Home Instead Senior Care network identified the top 10 things seniors fear most.
Loss of independence
We spend our whole lives learning to be independent and take care of ourselves. The thought of turning that responsibility over to others is frightening.
Your aging parents see their physical condition deteriorating. They wonder how much longer they’ll be able to do the things they enjoy. Declining health, of course means loss of independence.
Running out of money
Many seniors fear running short of funds. Even those who have been prudent and have wisely put aside funds sometimes worry that they won’t have enough. They worry about what will happen to them—and the burden it could put on their loved ones.
Not being able to live at home
For most seniors, home is much more than the house they live in. It’s a place packed with memories. It’s familiar. It feels safe. It’s a huge part of their identity.
Death of a spouse or other family member
The older our parents get, the more of their friends and relatives they see passing on. In addition to being a reminder of their own mortality, there is a genuine sense of loss of relationships. It’s harder to build lasting relationships at an advanced age.
Inability to manage their own activities of daily living
Perhaps nowhere is the loss of independence so acutely felt as in the inability to perform normal acts of daily living, such as eating, dressing, and bathing. Older adults fear losing control of their lives and requiring help in these areas is an unwelcome reminder of that.
Not being able to drive
Giving up the car is a serious blow to seniors. It’s one more act of independence that they have to forfeit. They are no longer free to come and go as they please, but have to depend on others. For men in particular, driving seems to be a significant part of their identity.
Isolation or loneliness
We’ve already mentioned that it’s increasingly hard to establish new relationships. And being alone increases feelings of being “unwanted.”
Strangers caring for them
We all generally prefer to be around familiar faces. Having a stranger provide care (especially for intimate needs) is extremely uncomfortable.
Fear of falling or getting hurt.
Most seniors know that they are not as sure of foot as they once were. They know that if they fall or otherwise injure themselves that it will impact their ability to do things on their own.
It’s important to understand the fears our aging parents face. We don’t have to talk with them about these things all the time, but it can help temper our reactions when we better understand why they sometimes react the way they do.