For as long as you can remember, your parents have been switched on, active people. They took care of you from being a baby and helped you branch out into the world. All the while, they were independent and had their careers and social life. Memories of moms and dads are always happy and joyous because that is what they bring to the table.
At the moment, the dynamic is shifting. People age and there is no way to stop Father Time. Unfortunately, it gets everyone in the end and all you can do is to be there for the people who were there for you during your life. Caring for them is a no-brainer when you understand their sacrifices. Still, it doesn’t mean it isn’t going to be a difficult, tricky journey. There will be arguments and hissy-fits and tears, and, at some point, it will feel as if you’re losing your sanity.
The last thing you want to do is resent your parents for putting them first. To avoid this, it’s essential to keep your head even when it seems as if you’re going to explode. Here are seven tips to take into consideration when caring for elderly parents.
Whether you and your parents like it, they will start to depend on you more and more. Their bodies can’t do the things they could before, and they need help with everyday activities. The same goes for their minds as they slow down in old age. On the whole, this is an entirely new relationship for a lot of children. You’re used to relying on them for help; not the other way around.
The key is to react to the change and come up with a brand new script. The processes that worked before won’t be effective anymore, which is why you need to get writing. For example, asking them for money is a huge no-no when you are in charge of their finances. It’s essential that you’re impartial and spend their money wisely. But, there needs to be a balance between doing what’s right and what they want. After all, it’s their cash and they should be able to spend it.
Your world is about to turn upside down in many respects. So, don’t merely get ready for the transformation but prepare to accept it and understand the position. An excellent tip is to work together to get to grips with the new model.
It’s not only you who will feel the pressure. Your parents will suffer too. Remember that they are in uncharted waters also. Even worse, they don’t want to be there because no one wants to get old. Youth is amazing as it’s freeing and independent, whereas at the moment they have to depend on their children. Of course, they are going to be angry. Wouldn’t you feel the same?
Although you are doing all you can to help, it won’t stop them from channeling their anger in your direction. Sorry, but it’s an occupational hazard of being the main caregiver. You’re a familiar face that will always be there regardless so they have nothing to lose by criticizing and lashing out. Let’s face it – there’s nothing worse than ungratefulness, even if it’s your parents. You want to feel valued, and you certainly want a thank you from time to time.
You can say to yourself that you’ll always understand their pain, but it’s a lie. Saints can’t care for people without losing their temper. The best option is to negate their emotions by offering them back their authority. For years, they have been in charge and now they’re not part of the decision-making process. Let them make choices again, or at least be a part of the conversation.
Don’t Expect Gratitude
In a perfect world, your parents will realize all you are doing for them in their golden years and open up emotionally. They’ll tell you things you never knew before and your relationship will be stronger than ever. Yep, that’s how it works in the movies. In real life, there’s a good chance they won’t ever say “thank you” or “I appreciate it, son/daughter.” Again, they are angry and dealing with their new surroundings so their minds are elsewhere.
Waiting for something to come that won’t is going to drive you crazy. It’s the ultimate anticlimax, except there is no climax because nothing happens. You sit and you wait and you hope without much hope and you begin to resent certain people. In many ways, lowering your expectations is the answer. If you know they aren’t going to grateful ahead of time, it negates the negative emotions afterward.
Instead, it’s better to aim low and be surprised when things do go right. As defeatist as it sounds, it’s tough to get old people to see your point of view. Rather than wasting your time explaining it, you can stop your hopes from getting dashed by being realistic.
Realize They Are Adults
Are you a parent? It’s a tough task raising kids and caring for an elderly mom and dad at the same time. And, there is bound to be some crossover. Remember that you are basically in charge of both groups. But, the last thing you want to do is treat your parents as if they are your children. Sure, you have a level of authority but they don’t have to listen. They’re adults who can do want they want, to a degree.
Accept and embrace this instead of fighting it or else it will cause tension. After a while, the constant fighting and arguments will drive you mad. It’s very easy to give your parents their freedom while looking after their best interests. Asking their advice on topics is basic yet effective. Too many children make decisions without consulting their parents and it starts to grate. Involve them wherever possible, especially when the decision involves their well-being.
Also, don’t set too many rules. Curfews and meals are for kids that can’t care for themselves. They might be old, but they aren’t obsolete. Moms and dads understand what they can eat and what time they can come home from the movies.
Be Positive Around The Help
By this point, you’re fully aware that you can’t take care of them alone. Even if the family pitches in, it’s going to be stressful. So, the answer is to hire healthcare professionals to fill in the gaps. Registered nurses and hospice carers can provide everything from medical treatment to companionship. What with work and school and the kids, you can’t be there 24/7.
Being positive is vital for two reasons. The first is simple: they are helping. Sometimes, siblings won’t pitch in because they think it’s your responsibility. The fact that these strangers are willing to do good by your parents is wonderful and you should treat them with respect as a result. Yes, even though they get paid. Secondly, negative emotions can manifest in their attitude towards your parents.
Bitching about how difficult they are and how it’s hard work to care for them will skew their approach. Rather than getting excited and being happy around your mom and dad, they’ll be a little skeptical. After all, they don’t want them to be nasty or lash out and make their life difficult. So, keep the interactions light and friendly. Let them make their mind up, and let their professionalism shine through in the end.
Call On Your Family
Obviously, you will take the brunt of the responsibility because they are your parents. Still, it doesn’t mean your spouse and children aren’t able to help. In fact, they might be crucial to stopping you losing your marbles. Why? It’s because their relationship is different.
Consider your kids for a moment. Grandchildren are the golden geese and it’s almost impossible for a grandparent to treat them poorly. Therefore, they might be able to get them to do things you can’t by using their relationship. The same goes for your partner. In-laws aren’t easy, yet they don’t share the same baggage. So, they might be more comfortable speaking to them because they never had the authority.
In simple terms, the relationships above will stay the same while yours will change. That makes them the ace up your sleeve.
Prepare For Sibling Rivalry
You thought it went away when you grew up and became adults, but it’s about to come back again. This post has already mentioned how brothers and sisters can rely on you and not pull their weight. They see you as being in charge and treat it as your problem.
This changes when money comes into the equation. Then, although you have power of attorney and are executing the will, they want to get involved. The will is going to be a huge thing, too. All you can do is prepare for the inevitable fallouts. Through it, all, remember that love comes above everything, even cash.
Do you want to lose your dignity over money?