If you were to name the top 5 emotions you experience in caring for aging parents, what would they be? Maybe you would first think of emotions like love, compassion, and sometimes, even exhaustion or frustration. Would anger make the list? In a number of cases, though family members may not like to acknowledge it, the answer is a definite YES.
The hard reality is that lots of adult children struggle with the fact 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. Observing a decline in their health upends that notion, which can leave us feeling let down, disillusioned, fearful, anxious, and yes – angry.
As the tables turn and aging parents become the ones in need of care, family dynamics may become difficult. And the negative stereotype within our culture towards aging informs us that getting older is something we have 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 heightened stress experienced by people who are part of the sandwich generation – taking care of children at home and caring for aging parents simultaneously. Nearly one in three adults with senior 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 important step is coming to a place of acceptance. Laura Cartensen, Stanford University psychology professor 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.”
Honest, open communication is also important. Family caretakers and their parents should express their thoughts about what is working well in the relationship, and what needs to be altered. Sometimes just understanding the other person’s perspective makes a major difference. For instance, a senior parent may exhibit agitation with being reminded to wear his/her glasses. A recommended response may be to clarify the reason behind the reminders – because of a concern that the parent may fall, for instance. A compromise can then be reached.
Focusing on the high-quality time your caregiving role provides you with your senior parents, while balancing your parents’ needs with your own, is key. One of the best ways to achieve this is by selecting a dependable care partner to help. Reach out to Lend a Hand Home Care at (775) 322-8414 or online for additional information about our home and hospice care in Reno and the surrounding areas.