If you were to list the top five emotions you experience in meeting the caregiving needs of your elderly parents, what would they be? Maybe you’d first think of emotions like love, compassion, and in some cases, even frustration or stress. Would anger make the list? In many cases, though family care providers might not wish to admit it, caregiver anger and resentment are very real.
The reality is that a large number of adult children grapple with the reality that their parents are getting older. Growing up, our parents might 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 belief, 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 may become complicated. And the negative stereotype within our culture towards aging informs us that growing older is something we must resist or deny – something that may have a direct impact on how both aging adults and their adult children handle age-related decline.
Add to that the increased stress experienced by individuals who are part of the sandwich generation – caring for children at home and aging parents at the same time. Approximately one out of three adults with elderly parents believe their parents require some degree of care as well as emotional support.
So, how might you shift to a more positive mindset? The most crucial 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 essential. Family caregivers and their parents should share their feelings in regards to what is working well in the relationship, and what needs to be improved. Oftentimes, just understanding the other person’s perspective makes a huge difference. For instance, a senior parent may voice annoyance with being reminded to put on his/her glasses. An appropriate response may be to clarify the reason for the reminders – because of a fear that the parent may fall, for example. A compromise can then be reached.
Concentrating on the quality time your caregiving role affords you with your aging parents, while handling your parents’ needs with your own, is key. One of the most effective ways to achieve this is by selecting a trusted care partner to assist. Call Responsive Home Care at (954) 486-6440 for more information about our services.