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Slowing down

The changes that our parents are undergoing can be frustrating for everyone concerned. Understanding what’s happening and being patient is important for our relationships.

It’s really hard to do. Slowing down to the speed of ageing parents.

For most of us life is a rush. We’ve probably rushed to find the time to visit, and we’ve rushed to get there. We leap out of the car, and into the house. And suddenly, there’s no rush.

We have to take a giant breath, and slow right down. We talk, and we need to wait for answers, not leap in to finish sentences. We walk, and we need to slow our pace to match our parent’s. We go for lunch and we eat or we chat, but only one or the other. We don’t ask for multi-tasking.

We try very hard not to seem impatient. It takes older people longer to get their thoughts in order and voice them. It takes them longer to make decisions. It takes them longer to hear what we’re saying and process it.

We try not to mind when they put their hands on the dashboard and comment on how fast we drive. We hold the door open while they squeeze in and out of the passenger seat.

We try, and fail, not to keep checking our phones while waiting for our parents to answer a question, make a decision, get themselves ready to go out.

We don’t mind that they’re telling us the same story for the third time in a week.

So far, so good.

But then we end up in a hospital waiting room. Waiting for our parent to see a specialist. Or get a scan. Or even waiting to go home.

Life in hospitals does seem to move slowly for patients, even if the staff feel rushed off their feet. And people of our parents’ generation tend to have a deep belief in the efficacy of those in uniform and their systems. But it is often the case that something simple has been overlooked, and the time has come to speak up.

The trick here is to respect a parent’s wish to respect the system, while quietly making sure that something is happening.

It’s all about patience. Something we struggle with in our hard-pressed lives.

Do you find yourself thinking you’ve lost the will to live while waiting for a parent to say and do whatever comes next? Have you any tips for relaxing and enjoying their company at their speed? We’d love to see your comments below.

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