Caring for aging parents brings about a variety of emotions.
If you were to name the top 5 emotions you experience while caring for aging parents, what would they be? Maybe you would first think of emotions like love, compassion, and sometimes, even stress or frustration. Would anger make the list? In many cases, though family caregivers may not wish to disclose it, the answer is a definite YES.
The truth is that lots of adult children grapple with the reality that their parents are getting 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. Noticing a decline in their health upends that belief, which could leave us feeling disillusioned, let down, fearful, anxious, and yes – angry.
As the tide shifts and aging parents become the ones needing help, family dynamics can become uneasy. And the negative stereotype in our society towards aging informs us that aging is something we ought to deny or resist – something which can 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 people who are part of the sandwich generation – taking care of children at home and caring for aging parents at the same time. As many as one out of three adults with elderly parents believe their parents need some amount of care along with emotional support.
So, how might you maintain a more positive mindset? The main step is reaching a place of acceptance. Laura Cartensen, psychology professor at Stanford University 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 vital. Family care providers and their parents should express their feelings about what is working well in the relationship, and what needs to be altered. Sometimes just understanding the other person’s perspective makes a significant difference. For example, a senior parent may voice irritation with being prompted to wear his / her glasses. An appropriate response might 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.
Focusing on the quality time your caregiving role provides 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 finding a reliable care partner to assist. Contact LightSpring Home Care online or at (215) 935-6321 for additional information about our services for senior home care in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas.