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Top 10 Guidelines for Caring for Teenagers and Elderly Parents

Top 10 Guidelines for Caring for Teenagers and Elderly Parents

Of all the major passages of life, you may not at first think that adolescence and old age have a lot in common, but those of us in the “Sandwich Generation” may find these parallels useful and entertaining. A little humor can go a long way to ease the pain for the whole family. Best wishes to you!

  1. Get to know their friends, especially those who can drive. You will probably not want them to ride in a car with some of their friends.
  2. Talk to them about drugs, including sharing medications with “friends” and taking deadly combinations of alcohol and drugs.
  3. Try to get them to eat nutritious foods and to exercise. They will probably act like they cannot hear you, but some of your words may sink in eventually.
  4. Talk to them about strangers who may try to lure them into money making schemes, knowing how vulnerable they are at this age.
  5. Support the healthy relationships they have with their friends, and gently steer them away from harmful relationships. Their awareness of the world is not as strong as yours, so take advantage of your own experience and knowledge to keep them out of harm.
  6. Although they may be embarrassed if you ask to accompany them into the doctor’s office, you may need to do so at times to get information that will help you help them. Find a way to do this without offending their need for privacy and independence.
  7. Understand that they will lie to you. They are not doing this to “be bad”, but to protect their independence. When you believe that they are lying, let them know that you love them very much, that you want to trust them, and that you need to know the truth to protect them from danger.
  8. This is a time of transition. Your relationship with them is not what it once was, and it will never be that way again. This will not be a smooth transition. There will be periods of dependence and periods of rebellion. Enjoy their dependence on you, and nurture the independence as an expression of their uniqueness.
  9. Pick your battles. If they only hear “No, no, no!” they may stop listening to you altogether. Try to keep a limited set of simple rules so you can agree on those that are important and only need reminders instead of having to fight daily battles over the small stuff.
  10. Set a good example. Take care of yourself, and be positive. You need proper rest, exercise and nutrition to keep up the energy it requires to take care of them.

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