reconnecting with estranged seniors

While it may be a stereotype that seniors are set in their ways and that they may be living with outdated ideals, stereotypes are often arrived at for a reason. It may be a generalization, but seniors can be stubborn and less inclined to want to change. If you’ve got a friend or a family member who you’ve become less attached to over time or distance, and you would like to reconnect, Whittier Glen Assisted Living shares some things to consider.

Open Lines of Communication

With most people, it’s easy to send an email or call out of the blue. With seniors, there may be fewer options available when it comes to reaching out. For example, while a video phone app like Zoom can be a good way to reconnect, since it gets you talking face-to-face without having to travel or make a day of it, getting used to a new app may provide an insurmountable difficulty for some seniors. Emails can go unanswered as they wind up in the spam folder, and a senior’s communication through email might be more stilted as they tend to approach it more formally.

A good old-fashioned letter may be the way to go. If you’re afraid there’s too much possibility for miscommunication or an argument, writing everything down lets you get it all out.

Listen

Good communication is a two-way street. They may say things you don’t want to hear or they may present a point of view that you hadn’t considered. Don’t be unwilling to accept fault, and be careful about placing too much blame on them. They may harbor resentment for things you were unaware were even a problem. It’s important to stay open and to really listen.

Stay engaged

It’s important for seniors to stay social and engaged. You may not be the only friend or family member they’ve lost, but you might be the only one willing to give them another chance. It’s possible that they’ve grown since you’ve last seen them, and that you can truly let bygones be bygones. Or it may be that they haven’t changed at all. It’s possible you can accept their faults, as long as they’re still basically a good person. Because although it may be rare, people really can change.

You can go into reconciliation with low expectations, and you might remain guarded, so that if old patterns repeat, you are less likely to get hurt.

Practice self-care

Verywell Mind reminds us that one of the most important things is to take care of yourself. Get enough sleep, exercise daily, eat well-balanced meals, stay hydrated, and carve time out of your schedule to relax and engage in an activity that brings you joy. Stress is part of everyone’s life, but it can become overwhelming and even lead to chronic stress as you attempt to re-establish the relationship. And, as ZenBusiness points out, if you’re a busy professional with workplace stressors it’s even more important to establish some ways to handle and cope with the pressure.

As you set out to reconnect with someone who is potentially difficult, don’t let it consume you. Be sure that this relationship is only one part of your life, and don’t let it wreck all the other good things you’ve got going on. Set boundaries, and articulate them if you need to. Let that person know what you are comfortable with and that you won’t devote too much time and energy to reconnecting, if it starts to become unhealthy.

Remember that not everything will always go as planned, so take it easy on yourself. Be patient and make an effort to stay calm and relaxed, as this will improve your mood and give you a better chance to add an old friend or family member back into your life. As Johns Hopkins points out, forgiveness isn’t just good for the forgiven, but it’s  good for you as well.