Your elderly parent launches into “the story.” You know it by heart. After all, you’ve listened–sort of–until your ears ache. Do you:
1. Pinch yourself periodically, as you struggle to stay awake?
2. Put on a happy face and nod now and then?
3. Worry that your aging parent is losing his mind–or you’re losing yours?
A month ago, on Father’s Day, my friend Linda had an Epiphany relating to this subject. When her 91-year-old dad began to recount scenes from his boyhood, as he’d done so many times, Linda said, “I began listening with new ears.”
She asked questions. “What did you like most about the walk to school?” “Tell me about your favorite teacher?” “Was recess fun?” “How did you deal with bullies?”
“My questions set Dad off in a different direction,” she said. New information surfaced, and the old, old story suddenly came alive. In the process, Linda honored her dad by her active listening. He gave her information about her heritage. Both their minds were fed.
Does engaging your parent during the story sound like it’s worth a try?
And as to the repetive stories indicating dementia, either for you or your aging parent, rest your mind. Nearly every elderly person repeats stories. It’s just what they do.
How do you respond when your aging parent repeats stories?