Family Caregiving Issues: Are You a Helicopter Caregiver?

helicopter parent sandwich generation
Have you become a helicopter caregiver? Find out here.

We’ve all heard of helicopter parents, especially when a child goes off to college. In fact, we may be guilty of hovering a touch too closely ourselves. Finding that appropriate harmony between caring and overstepping our boundaries isn’t always straightforward.

And now, with the increasing number of sandwich generationers in family caregiving roles for both aging parents and children, we are at risk of earning yet another badge of overbearingness: that of a helicopter child/caregiver. It’s very common for adult children to find themselves slipping into a role reversal in regard to their elderly parents, with the very best of intentions, of course; naturally, we’d like to keep our loved ones safe. Nevertheless, this can lead seniors to feel indignant, offended, or possibly discouraged at their new lack of control and independence.

If you think you could be infringing upon your senior parent’s rights and sense of self-worth and control, here is insight on how to come in for a landing, and determine to step in only when entirely needed.

Talk about expectations. Engage your parent in a dialogue about aging wishes, and how she would want you to assist in achieving those goals. For instance, in case the senior were to develop dementia, would the preference be to move into an assisted living facility, or remain at home with help? If, for example the senior were to fall, necessitating surgery or rehabilitation, how would she envision her recovery experience? Would she be comfortable getting assistance with personal care tasks, like bathing and using the toilet, from you or from a certified caregiver?

Speak up when needed. When safety is compromised, it is important to step in, maintaining a respectful, collaborative mind-set. The objective is to ensure that the senior preserves as much self-sufficiency as is feasible. If she’s unwilling to accept assistance or even make sensible decisions, such as utilizing a walker when needed to prevent a fall, it may be beneficial to engage the help of her healthcare provider or a geriatric care manager to offer guidelines.

Otherwise, step back. When you’re attempting to control conditions that are not affecting the senior’s health or safety, and she is cognitively still able to make her own decisions, it is best to let those worries go. “A child should be sensitive to a parent’s need for self-determination and maintaining self-identity,” said Barry Jacobs, clinical psychologist and author of The Emotional Survival Guide for Caregivers: Looking After Yourself and Your Family While Helping Aging Parents.

Get in contact with Home Sweet Home In-Home Care’s Paw Paw, MI home care team, or our home care experts throughout southwest Michigan at (269) 849-9252 for professional senior care services, which are always geared towards ensuring as much independence as possible for senior loved ones, allowing family caregivers time to step back and grant their parents the independence they desire while remaining safe.

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