If you were to list the top five emotions you experience in meeting the care needs of your aging parents, what would they be? Maybe you’d first think of feelings like compassion, love, and sometimes, even stress or frustration. Would anger make the list? In many cases, though family care providers might not like to admit it, the answer is a definite YES.
The truth is that a great many 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. Witnessing a decline in their health shatters that notion, which might leave us feeling let down, disillusioned, anxious, fearful, and yes – angry.
As the tables turn and aging parents become the ones in need of care, family dynamics may become complicated. And the negative stereotype in our culture towards aging informs us that growing older is something we have to resist or deny – something that can have an impact on how both adult children and their aging parents handle age-related decline.
Add to that the compounded stress experienced by people who are part of the sandwich generation – caring for children at home and aging parents at the same time. As many as one in three adults with elderly parents believe their parents need some degree of care in addition to emotional support.
So, how might you switch to a more positive mindset? The most crucial step is arriving at 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.”
Open, honest communication is also critical. Family caretakers and their parents should express their thoughts in regards to what is working well in the relationship, and what needs to be changed. Often just learning the other person’s perspective makes a significant difference. For instance, a senior parent may express frustration with being prompted to wear his or her glasses. An appropriate response may be to explain the reason for the reminders – because of a concern that the parent may fall, for example. A compromise can then be reached.
Concentrating on the high quality time your caregiving role affords you with your aging parents, while balancing your parents’ needs with your own, is key. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by finding a dependable care partner to help. Get in touch with Amy’s Helping Hands, the leading provider of home care in Windsor, Ontario and surrounding areas, at 519-915-4370 to find out more about our customized in-home care services.