You may be familiar with the renowned book of Dr. Gary Chapman, “The Five Love Languages”, when you first got into a relationship or preparing to get married with our chosen one. But the concept of love languages goes beyond a romantic relationship. Discovering your love languages not just empowers you to ask for love in the ways you enjoy receiving it but also encourages you to question how the people you care about prefer to receive love and appreciation from you. It is definitely applicable to all kind of relationships as having this deeper understanding of yourself and your loved ones can help to take your relationships to the next level.
A particular challenging relationship that this concept can help to renew the energy is that of the ageing parents and adult children. As seniors age, their physical and mental challenges and limitations increase. Their adult children may sometime find it challenging to keep up with the relationship as they too are facing new phases of life. By applying the love languages to the relationship with your ageing loved one, you can be sure to discover transformation to your relationships!
Help your seniors discover their love languages
The first step is to discover their love languages. You can get some clues by thinking back on how they showed you love both now and as you were growing up. Were they affectionate or verbally encouraging? Did they make an effort to spend time with you, help you, or give you gifts to make you feel special?
Or you can also help them take a quiz on the 5 Love Languages website. Walk them through the questions and as they share their answers, you can get your answers too!
How can the 5 love languages be applied to loving our senior parents?
1. Acts of Service
If your parent’s love language is Acts of Service, they would appreciate the ways you help them out, big or small. Very often, they may not feel comfortable asking for help, so taking the initiative to help them can mean a lot to them! Start by asking yourself, “what could I do that would make their life a little bit easier or happier?”. Observe their daily routine, what bothers them the most? Can you help them to remove those roadblocks? For example, helping them to pay bills online or organizing their medicine box. “Let me do that for you” is the magic phrase for this love language.
2. Words of Affirmation
Seniors whose love language is Words of Affirmation would feel most valued when you express your heartfelt feelings in words. Be generous with your kind and encouraging words to let them know you care for them and sincerely acknowledge or praise them for something they are good at – for example thanking them for preparing a nice meal and telling them how much you like their cooking. If saying “I love you” is awkward for you, try writing it down on a post-it note and paste it on their fridge or bathroom mirror. Writing a loving letter for them as a surprise can also be very meaningful.
Find out how Simi app can help you deliver those love messages without verbally telling them.
3. Quality Time
Most seniors would appreciate quality time together. Seniors with Quality Time as their main love language would appreciate this even more. Giving them your undivided attention is how you show love to them. You could spend time to do activities together – such as cooking, making crafts, doing chores, grocery shopping, or even just stay at home to chit chat. They would know you spared your time out of your busy schedule to accompany them and that’s all they need to feel loved.
4. Physical Touch
As someone ages, loving and gentle physical touch gets rarer, which can be challenging for seniors who speak this love language. Holding your parent’s hand, hugging them, or simply sitting close to them to make them feel your presence can really make a difference. At times, you can also help to comb their hair, cut their fingernails, apply massaging lotion, or do some simple facial care. These would be warmly welcomed as signs of love and care.
5. Receiving Gifts
For seniors whose love language is Receiving Gifts, it means they appreciate the thought behind the gifts. Be it a gift you bought or handmade, they would feel your love for them from the fact that you thought of them. It is even more valuable when you put effort into knowing their needs and preferences. A sweet surprise during special days can mean a lot to them.
In summary, most people relate to all of the love languages but stronger in a few of them. Knowing your own and your loved ones’ love languages can help with daily interactions and showing affection to each other. Very often, someone shows their love through the love languages they most related to because they are familiar with it and they yearn for it. So, observe, reflect, and start speaking the same love languages with your senior parents.