If you were to detail the top 5 emotions you experience in caring for aging 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 a number of cases, though family caregivers may well not wish to disclose it, the answer is a resounding YES.
The stark reality is that a number of adult children struggle with the reality that their parents are growing older. Growing up, our parents might have exuded strength, health, and control, giving us an underlying impression that they would always be there for us. Witnessing a decline in their health shatters that idea, which could leave us feeling let down, disillusioned, fearful, anxious, and yes – angry.
As the tables turn and older parents become the ones needing care, family dynamics can become complicated. And the negative stereotype in our society towards aging tells us that aging is something we must deny or resist – something which can have an effect on how both aging adults and their adult children handle age-related decline.
Add to that the increased 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 senior parents believe their parents need some amount of care as well as emotional support.
So, how can you shift to a more positive mindset? The main step is arriving to a place of acceptance. Laura Cartensen, psychology professor at Stanford University and director of the 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 important. Family care providers and their parents should share their thoughts in regards to what is working well in the relationship, and what needs to be changed. In some cases just learning the other person’s perspective makes all the difference. For example, a senior parent may express irritation with being prompted to put on his or her glasses. An appropriate response might 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 affords you with your senior parents, while handling your parents’ needs with your own, is key. One of the best ways to achieve this is by selecting a trusted care partner to help. Get in touch with Home Sweet Home In-Home Care, the Kalamazoo, MI home care experts, at (269) 373-5444 for additional information, or reach out to the office location nearest you: (269) 763-5350 in Paw Paw; (269) 849-9252 in St. Joseph; or (269) 963-9888 in Battle Creek.