Author: Sarah Jennings
Published: Jan 24 2013
Sarah Jennings has been taking care of others her whole life. In 2005, she moved her mother into her family home. She uses her personal experience to share with others about caring for the elderly. She currently writes for Brookdale assisted living.
As we age, sometimes we have to rely on others to care for us. This can be difficult, as humans can be very independent creatures. It is hard to relinquish control and rely on others for things we feel we should be able to do ourselves.
The worst part for a lot of people is when their children, the people who have always counted on them for anything, now have to take care of them. This is many a parent’s worst nightmare. Because this is not what they wanted for themselves or their family, sometimes an elderly parent seems resentful and angry towards the very people caring for them.
As a caregiver, there are many challenges in taking care of your parents, especially if they move in with you. However, there are a lot of things you can do to minimize these challenges.
Even though you haven’t been a child for a long time, your parents are still your parents. You probably still at least respect them as an elder; if not still recognize them as an authority figure. This can make it difficult to take care of them, because you don’t want to disrespect them. You have to find strategies to make sure they take their medicines and have everything they need without being a nag or talking down to them.
That sounds familiar, doesn’t it? That’s exactly how you have to go about raising teenagers. Actually, teenagers and the elderly have a lot in common. They both want to be independent but can’t completely provide for themselves. Both are made a bit cranky by their situation. Teenagers have growing pains; the elderly have aging pains. Both have the tendency to develop selective hearing at convenient times.
You may be despairing right now. You do not want teenagers in the house. Whether you have had them before, or perhaps even still have some at home, raising teenagers is not fun, whether they are biologically so or not.
But this realization comes with a bright side. You have not been in your parents’ shoes. You have no idea how to relate to what they are going through. You have, however been a teenager. You remember what it was like to have people prevent you from living how you wanted.
By using this perspective and realizing the emotional challenges your parents are facing, you can take steps to bridge the gap between you and make the situation as pleasant as possible. Think of how you wanted to be treated when you were a teenager. Now implement these changes in your relationship with your parents. Here are a few possible solutions.
Think about it: you hated your parents always setting curfews and having to know where you were. Once you moved out into the real world though, it was a lot easier to have open communication with your roommates. This was because they weren’t an authority figure. When you let roommates know where you are, it’s a courtesy, or so that plans can be made/upheld.
Since you are not an authority figure to your parent, though you are a caregiver, you do not need to be a controlling entity in their life. The only reason anything should be imposed as a “rule” is for safety purposes. If your parents are not capable of driving safely, you need to make sure that they don’t try. If they have medication they need to take, make sure they are doing so. The more you portray things as a reciprocal relationship where you look out for each other, the less defensive they will be.
One of the worst feelings in the world is feeling useless. As we age and are unable to do certain things, the feeling of worthlessness may try to settle in. As a caregiver, you must care for the mental state of your parents as well as the physical. To keep them from falling into despair, make them feel needed.
This can come in many forms. You can ask them to help with meal preparation or light housekeeping chores. If your mom sews or knits or your dad does woodwork, you could ask them to make things for you and the grandkids. As they continue aging, there will be less and less they can do. Perhaps they can fulfill the role of a confidant.
By caring for your parents in the way you would want to be treated, you can eliminate a lot of problems that come with moving them into your home. Remember how you felt when you were living in their house. What did they do that you appreciated or would want changed? Use this experience to mold your current situation. Life can bring challenges, but if you are considerate and deliberate in your actions, you can rise to meet them.
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