Living with Elderly Parents: Respecting Each Other's Privacy

Living with Elderly Parents

Moving Elderly Parents Into Your Home

When my parents lived elsewhere, there were many facets of my life that they never knew about. No, I wasn’t harboring criminals, or leading a secret life as a spy, but I was more easily able to decide the type and amount of information I felt comfortable dispensing to them.

Before my parents moved in, I generally saw them about once a month; therefore, most of our conversations took place over the telephone. The telephone made it so much easier editing or leaving out information about private aspects of my life. I guess the anonymity which comes from only having a voice and not the real person in front of you, makes all the difference. Once my parents moved in, I no longer needed to use the telephone to communicate with them. What I did need to learn was new ways to communicate the information I wanted them to know. I found that the sifting through of any type of information is a skill, but more importantly, it’s a skill I first had to learn how to be comfortable doing.

I thought that by having my parents live with me, I also had to tell them where I was going, when I was going and with whom. Essentially, I reverted back to my teenage years, a time when I had to supply that type of information or else I wouldn’t be allowed to leave the house. It was scary, how easily I fell back into the role of a teenage once my parents were around full-time. I quickly forgot I was no longer a teenager, but an adult with my own set of responsibilities, my own choices to make and my own dreams to pursue.

You’re probably thinking my parents were out of line to treat me like a teenager. The most ironic part of my situation is that they didn’t. My parents never requested any type of information. They didn’t need to. I readily gave it to them, feeling it was my duty to let them know my whereabouts. By doing so, I eventually started to feel as if I had given up some of my freedom. What happened if my plans changed and I wouldn’t be back at the time I had originally anticipated? Was I then obligated to call, explain my delay, and give another estimated time of arrival? In my desire to let my parents know of my schedule, I felt as if I had put a noose around my own neck and it was getting tighter as each day passed.

Have you ever spoken to someone and before you know it, they’re giving you their unasked for life story? While you politely listen and nod your head, inside you’re thinking: This is waaaay too much information. Living with my parents again has made me embrace this phrase. Whenever I have to tell my parents something about my whereabouts, or my personal life, I remind myself to tell them only what is absolutely necessary. For instance, if I have a doctor’s appointment for something very personal, I may just say I’m going for a routine check-up. I may be rearranging the facts slightly, but I’m also allowing myself the privacy I’m entitled to. If the time comes when I feel they may need more information, I won’t hesitate to inform them.

This process works both ways. I shouldn’t be privy to all the decisions my parents make with one another. I trust they will let me know what they believe I should. Having privacy is a precious right. We should not be made to feel selfish for wanting it, nor should we not respect that same right in others.

Life Longevity