Ten Coping Skills Everyone Can Use Today

1.   Coping with Negative Feelings:

People are rarely upset about the incident to which they are reacting.  Underneath anger and frustration you will almost always find fear and disappointment. Overload happens when layers of anger and frustration become so deep we can barely cope. When we can identify each layer as it happens, even if we can’t do anything about it, the layers will be less likely to bury us. Weare not really angry at mom’s denial of her forgetfulness; we miss the mom we have always known.

2.   How to set a boundary:

A boundary lets me decide how far someone is going to come into my life.  No matter what the request upon your personal time, respond by saying, “let me look at my calendar and get back to you.”  This gives you time to think and allows you to break the “knee jerk” reaction that can pattern itself into every request.  Stress is what happens when your inner voice says “no” and you mouth is says, “of course, I would be happy to…”

3.  How to Side Step Control:

Never set a predictable schedule of visits to your parents. Traffic happens. life happens.  If mom expects you at 3:00 and you arrive at 3:45, she may imagine you in an accident, neglectful or both.  If mom is upset, regardless of the rational base, you feel guilty. It is best to call before you arrive making sure a visit is convenient for her than to be expected, and late.

4.  Coping with Siblings in a Family Crisis:

Step back and observe yourself for a moment. A family crisis or a family celebration can bring up old childhood patterns of behavior.  It is a “time warp” that turns us into teenagers again. Stop reacting long enough to remember who you are, then share the “time warp” phenomenon with your siblings.  Soon you will identify this baffling behavior when it happens and react with a knowing smile rather than feeling angry or diminished.

5.  Coping with One More Doctor Story:

Illness is the battleground of old age.  Multiple losses create post traumatic stress disorder and talking about ailments and losses is the way to treat PTSD.  When we listen we are being naturally therapeutic.  If we understand that healing is happening when an elder talks about illness, doctors, aches and pains it makes it easier to set aside our impatience.

Read On – Your Parents Must Cope Too

1.     How to Side Step Control:

Are your children micromanaging you life? Feeling responsible for a fragile parent is not unlike bringing our first baby home from the hospital.  That baby is not going to break but it takes time to figure that out. Adult Children can hover obsessively.  Micro-managers try to anticipate your every need, which can cause you to feel old before your time.  Remind them that there is no need to fix something that is not broken yet.  Your spirit of independence with inspire them and you with thrive on your increased self confidence. When you really need help they will be there for you.

2.     You  Can Put Yourself First:

No one knows your energy level better than you.  When the four great grandchildren or your sister (who talks non-stop) want to come by for a visit take a minute to look at your calendar.  Clear a day that will allow you to rest for a day between these high energy visitors. It is all right to put your needs first.  If you don’t, who will?

3.     Coping With your Children in a Family Crisis:

Don’t expect them to act like adults. A family crisis can bring up old childhood patterns of behavior.  It is a “time warp” that makes your children teen agers again.  When their bickering is upsetting you, tell them they are acting just like they did when they were kids. It is to be expected when a central member of the family is in a medical crisis.  Refer them to the sibling chapter in my book for a more detailed description of this “time warp” phenomenon.

4.     Losses Require Attention:

You talk to work through the trauma of your losses. If you survived a plane crash, you would tell and re-tell the story until you had worked through the post traumatic stress disorder. The same is true about the loss of a loved one, loss of a driver’s license or loss of mobility. You are sad and worried.  The best thing you can do for yourself is to feel and express the emotions.  Have a good cry, it is therapeutic.

5.     Handling the Sensitive Topic of Money:

Your money belongs to you.  When asked about his will, Somerset Maugham is quoted as saying, “Being of sound mind, I spent it.”  Spend your money to support the quality of life you desire.  If there is money left over, design a will to leave it to the children and grandchildren.  When an adult child questions the expenses of a cognitively sound parent, a good reply is, “We have been saving for a rainy day, and it’s raining.” Unless you are suffering from true dementia, you have the final word.  Forgetfulness is not dementia.

An Article by Suzanne Roberts, Author of The Handbook for Children of Aging Parents.

© 2000-2014 Suzanne Roberts