Family Healing: Reconnecting with Seniors
By Sarah Velasquez
Photo Credit: Pexels.com
Whether they are a parent or a grandparent, we can become estranged from seniors. They can be stubborn, they can get hung up on politics, or they can live in the past in ways that make them difficult to be around. They may have been difficult even when they were younger. It is possible they hurt you or have the potential to continue to hurt you.
But if you are thinking of reconnecting, you probably believe they’re a good person at their core, and you probably have a reason to want to reconnect. Maybe enough time has passed, or maybe they’re starting to take an account of their lives and would appreciate making a connection. Here are a few ideas for successfully reconnecting.
Opening Lines of Communication
If you expect to see them again at a family gathering, you may want to try to establish communication before the event. You do not want too much anxiety around seeing them, and you don’t want it to ruin your evening.
According to Hootsuite analytics, seniors tend to use Facebook more than other ways of connecting, and Facebook Messenger may not be the best place to have a conversation. You could message them there to let them know to look for an email, or to set up a phone call. If Facetime is a preferred mode of communication, but your loved one has a slow internet connection, calls get choppy or drop altogether. You can always explore provider options to see if there is a more powerful, faster option in their area.
Under normal circumstances, a video phone app would be a good way to reconnect because it lets you get used to seeing each other face-to-face without committing to an actual meet-up. If things get tense or if you start arguing, you can always get off the phone. But telling them you’ve been thinking of them and that you want to try to reconnect is a good first step.
Seniors who are hard of hearing can sometimes struggle to hear phone calls, and they may benefit from a headset. Make sure your loved one has a comfortable setup for connecting. Many headphones and earbuds are wireless and Bluetooth-enabled, so if you opt for one of these models be sure to take the time to teach them how they operate.
And if you do plan on seeing this person at a family gathering, let them know you can chat there and you’ll be glad to see them, but it isn’t the best place to talk out your differences. When you are ready you may have some difficult conversations ahead of you. Be open and be prepared to really listen. Try not to interrupt, even if they become argumentative, or if their version of events differs greatly from your own. If there were conflicts and misunderstandings between you, miscommunication may have contributed to the problem.
Be open to their version of events and affirm their testimony. You don’t have to agree with what they are saying, but you are letting them know that you hear them and you understand what they are saying. You may not be the only person who has been estranged from them, but you might be the only one giving them another chance.
Recognize Your Own Faults
Forgiving yourself for your past actions is the first step to being able to face what you have done with grace and humility. Be open to change and work on it. If you have wronged this person or haven’t always been your best self around them, let them know that you are working on yourself and that you hope to be better in the future.
Implement self-care. Eat right, exercise, get enough sleep, meditate -- all of these can do a world of difference. Also ensure that the home environment promotes balance and positivity. Bringing this kind of self-love and self-forgiveness is one of the best ways you can help to reconnect with your loved ones.
Take it Slow
Go into reconciliation with low expectations and do not expect an immediate change overnight. Set boundaries for what you are comfortable with and what you won’t tolerate. It may be that this relationship just was not meant to be. You will know you gave it a second chance, however. And it’s possible that things will work out, because people really can change. As Mayo Clinic reminds us, forgiveness isn’t just good for those being forgiven, it’s good for us too.
About the Author
Sarah and Mark Velasquez are the creators of Our Perfect Abode. After years of renting, they recently bought their very first home. They’re currently hard at work turning that fixer upper into their perfect abode and are sharing their journey and all the tips and tricks they pick up along the way on their website Our Perfect Abode.