It’s not hard to find problems in your family. Although you are all related, that doesn’t mean you all get along. That’s especially true when you grow up. Those grandparents and elderly uncles might have been fun when you were a child, but now you can have problems connecting with them.
This gets even more difficult when those seniors are struggling with addiction recovery. Whether it was a problem with alcohol, pain medications, or something else, these seniors probably changed a lot since breaking their addiction and getting clean. If you’re ready, you can reconnect with senior loved ones in addiction recovery and help your family begin to heal.
Now is the Right Time
Why try to reconnect with seniors? There are several reasons. Spring and summer bring a plethora of events that can help bring the family together around something positive. For example, just sitting around with nothing to talk about can force people to say something bad just to avoid the silence. But if everyone is helping to prepare for a graduation party or a family barbecue, there’s a reason to reconnect.
You don’t have to even work together. Buzzle.com shows that small groups or even one-on-one time can help you build a stronger relationship with the seniors in your life. Go for a walk and do some shopping together, or just make a cup of coffee and talk. Spring is a time of new beginnings, so encourage people (both you and seniors) to put aside differences and reconnect.
But this isn’t about reconnecting with a grandparent you haven’t seen in a few years. These seniors have gone through a major struggle with addiction. Although they are sober now, addiction recovery is a journey and not like a light-switch. It’s not over with that easily, and that can complicate things.
First, it may help to know that drug and alcohol addiction is becoming more prevalent. Seniors use medication much more than the general population, increasing their risk of becoming addicted to opioids and other prescription drugs. While seniors are no more likely to drink alcohol than other adults, they often have problems with depression, pain, and loneliness that makes alcoholism more likely.
That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to hide the alcohol in the house. To help reconnect, talk politely but openly with the seniors about their addiction. Ask how you can help them stay sober. Not only do they know best what needs to happen, they will appreciate your respect and consideration. That can help rebuild any bridges that addiction might have burned.
Understanding Their Other Circumstances
It’s also important to observe their situation and the needs they may not be particularly vocal about. As we age, it’s obviously harder to do many of the things we did in our younger years, including everyday tasks. For a senior trying to get their life back on track post-addiction, it can be even more difficult.
A wonderful way to reconnect and offer your support and understanding is to find ways to help your senior manage some of their everyday responsibilities. You can lend a hand yourself or even hire help. For example, if the senior has a dog they need help taking care of, offer to take it to the dog park, or hire someone for dog walking or dog boarding services. If they’re having trouble keeping their house clean, drop by to do a little vacuuming or hire a cleaning service to tidy up. If they’re unable to shop for groceries, drop off a healthy-food care package or enlist the help of a grocery or meal delivery service for them. Any little thing you can do that supports a better life balance for the senior will help you reconnect with them.
What To Discuss
When reconnecting with the seniors in your family, whether or not they have an addiction, it can be difficult to know what to talk about. How can you start a dialogue? Aging Care has a great page explaining how you can talk to seniors. For example, you need to be able to accept different opinions. Of course, there are limits — you don’t want to accept any conversation that becomes toxic. But our elders come from a different time, so it’s okay for them to have different ideas.
You also want to avoid sounding condescending and spend time listening. One of the best ways to build bridges is to actively listen to what seniors are talking about.
Reconnect This Season
Because spring and summer emphasize new growth and fresh starts, they present a great opportunity to reconnect with senior members of your family — especially if they are in addiction recovery. Talk to them about how you can be supportive of their sobriety, and be sure to talk and listen politely. This can help your whole family enjoy your time together.