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Dear Dania: Helping My Ageing Parents

Dear Dania,

Over the past year, I’ve noticed just how much my parents have aged – physically and psychologically. I’m worried about them, but they are very proud people who don’t like admitting their flaws. 

How do I start a conversation with them about my concerns without it descending into awkwardness or an argument? I don’t want it to become a taboo topic, as their care will inevitably fall to me.



Dear Letitia*,

Thank you for your letter.

I am sorry to hear about your concerns. Watching your loving parents grow older is never easy – with grey hairs come wisdom but also a reminder of life’s ticking clock. Its chime seems to get louder as the years pass by, forcing us to confront this cruel inevitability.

Once, my father told me that as people get older they can regress to a child-like state. At first I didn’t understand what he meant, but as the years go by I am starting to realise there is some truth to that. It is as though the roles are reversed – we, the children, are now the nagging shrews, whereas the parents have become the stroppy teenagers. We want to protect our temperamental adolescents at all costs, wrap them in cotton wool and hope that they will always be safe. We ‘know’ what’s best for them and are trying our hardest to get through to them, unfortunately to no vail at times. Our attempts seem to be quite futile and are often met with hostility or a “I’ll-get-to-it-later-but-really-I-won’t” grunt. We are encroaching on their fun. So is there a way to break through this barrier of stubbornness? There could be. Here are some tips for you:

  • Perhaps you could try to tell them how you feel? You clearly care about them and want them to have a long, healthy, happy life. Have you tried expressing this to them?
  • Bring up your concerns in a non-judgemental, loving way. Remember: you may think that you know best, but ultimately you are not walking in their shoes. They are entitled to disagree with what you have to say.
  • Remind them (and yourself) of the good times. Seeing all the wonderful memories you have shared together may entice them to listen to you. After all, I’d imagine you are hoping to have many more experiences with them, right? Tell them that!
  • Listen to what they say and be willing to compromise. Sometimes we’re so focused on trying to bend our loved one’s will that we forget about their own desires or needs.
  • Don’t rescue! Respect their boundaries at all times. You cannot force them to do anything that they don’t want to do.
  • Consider that perhaps they may not be ready to have certain conversations. Sometimes it’s easier to live in denial than face our own mortality. So many of us are terrified to even contemplate it, let alone prepare ourselves for it.

Once, we thought our parents were invincible, but time shatters that illusion. It’s cruel and devastating, but also real and beautiful. We can choose to run away from that inevitability or accept its sting and learn from it.

For more information/tips please click here or alternatively you may want to consider discussing this with a therapist.

I wish you all the best.

Your sincerely,


Dear Dania is for informational purposes only, Always seek the advice of a mental-health professional, or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. We may edit your letter for length and/or clarity.

*The author’s identifying details have been changed in order to protect their privacy.

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