When the Roles Change: Caregiving for Aging Parents
If you’ve ever been a parent, you know of the hard work and love that is devoted each day to raising a child. Later in life, if put in the position of caregiving for aging parents, it can almost feel familiar to parenting your own children.
It’s a physically and emotionally tolling role to fill. There are aspects to caregiving for aging parents that are not easy to work through, as it shifts roles and responsibilities for the parent and the adult children involved.
Caregivers must remember that they are not alone, they are strong, and that there are ways to make the most of the circumstances.
We’ve outlined a few tips to help caregivers navigate these struggles.
It’s okay to grieve drastic changes in a parent
Whether they suffer from a memory loss related from Alzheimer’s and dementia, Parkinson’s, ALS, or other life altering conditions, or behavior simply changes from age, it’s tough to see them act differently than the mom or dad you’ve known your whole life.
Changes in behavior can lead to conflict, and a different relationship altogether. What’s important for parent caregivers to know is that it is okay to mourn the loss of this relationship.
Communicate respectfully and patiently
Aging parents can be resistant to help due to the fact that they are frustrated with not being able to do things for themselves like they used to. Stubbornness is common, and when children of an elderly parent step in to provide care, they cannot always be accepting of the change in roles.
Remain patient and respectful when communicating. Always explain something to them in a calm manner, even when agitated.
Know your caregiving boundaries
As loving family members, we will answer any call for help. It is in our nature to assist those we really care about, but it is also important to remember that we are human. We can only do so much for others before we take too little time for ourselves.
Accepting the tasks you are comfortable doing, and recognizing the need to ask for help when necessary is something every caregiver must understand. There is no need to feel guilt for spreading care responsibilities to other family members. It is likely that they will want to step in and provide for their parents, aunt/uncle, or grandparents that have loved and cared for them over the years.
Caregiver burnout is the physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion attributed to caregiving. Knowing the signs and how to prevent the onset of this condition is crucial for every caregiver to familiarize themselves with.
Find support from others
You are your best supporter, but when caregiving for aging parents, it can bring on a lot of new stress to navigate. When having to give up time for other activities and life plans to make time for a care schedule, caregivers can strike feelings of being unable to have anyone to relate to.
Reaching out to friends and family can help, but if you are a caregiver in need of seeking a support group, there are several groups out there. There are even virtual groups such as our very own Caregiver Konnect that are ideal for those who have a harder time being able to leave the home.
Finding support from those who are in the same scenario will make a family caregiver feel less alone, valued, and connected with other caregivers. Exchanging stories, wisdom, venting, and humor will benefit you as the caregiver, but also the others you interact with.
The Kensington White Plains – Your Partners in Care
The relationship between a child and their parents is something that is sacred. After years of being raised and cared for, adult children want the best for the aging parent who gave them their time and devotion over this span of time.
This relationship may change with age and new circumstances, bringing challenges to the family table. Having a plan, taking care of oneself, and giving light in the circumstances are how caregivers of aging parents can continue to provide the best for their parents, but also themselves.
At The Kensington White Plains, we promise to love and care for your family as we do our own. The transition to a community is a next step for many family caregivers, and one we can help you with. A lot of questions are likely to surface, and if you have any you’d like to ask about memory care or assisted living, give us a call today. We’d also like to share with you how our communities differ from others.