If you were to list the top 5 emotions you feel in caring for parents, what would they be? Maybe you’d first think of feelings like love, compassion, and sometimes, even dread or frustration. Would anger make the list? In many cases, though family caregivers would not wish to admit it, the answer is a definite YES.
A number of adult children struggle with the reality that their parents are growing older. Growing up, our parents may have exuded health, strength, and control, giving us an underlying impression that they would always be there for us. Watching a decline in their health upends that notion, that could leave us feeling let down, disillusioned, fearful, anxious, and yes – angry.
As the tide shifts and aging parents become the ones needing care, family dynamics can become complicated. And the negative stereotype within our society towards aging tells us that growing older is something we need to resist or deny – something which can have a direct effect on how both adult children and their aging parents handle age-related decline.
Add to that the compounded stress experienced by individuals who are part of the sandwich generation – taking care of children at home and caring for aging parents at the same time. Approximately one in three adults with elderly parents believe their parents need some degree of care along with emotional support.
So, how can you shift to a more favorable mindset? The main step is coming to a place of acceptance. Laura Cartensen, Stanford University psychology professor and director of its Center on Longevity, explains, “The issue is less about avoiding the inevitable and more about living satisfying lives with limitations. Accepting aging and mortality can be liberating.”
Honest, open communication is also crucial. Family caregivers and their parents should express their thoughts about what is working well in the relationship, and what needs to be modified. In some cases, just understanding the other person’s perspective makes a significant difference. For instance, a senior parent may express annoyance with being prompted to put on his or her glasses. A recommended response may be to clarify the reason behind the reminders – because of a concern that the parent may fall, for example. A compromise can then be reached.
Concentrating on the quality time your caregiving role gives you with your aging parents, while balancing your parents’ needs with your own, is key. One of the most effective ways to accomplish this is by finding a dependable care partner to help. Connect with Atlanta Home Care Partners online or at (404) 228-0103 to learn more about our award-winning Decatur home care services. To find out if we provide care in your community, please visit our Service Area page.