As parents age and their health declines, children may encounter a change of roles. Instead of the parent taking care of the child, the child becomes the parent. This change may come on gradually as you slowly take on a more active role in their lives. Preparing for your new role as a caretaker can be difficult, especially if your parent is resisting the role reversal. The more you know about the subject, the better you can handle the twists and turns of parental caregiving.
Recognize Your Role
The longer it takes you to identify yourself as a “caregiver,” the more difficult you will find the transition. Recognizing your role can:
- Empower you
- Make you feel less alone, and
- Open the doors to resources.
Once you establish that you are a caregiver, you can seek assistance from programs such as the AARP Caregiver Resource Center. Remember, performing household chores or running errands for your parent or elderly loved ones makes you a caregiver.
Learn How to Communicate
A common problem new caregivers face is dealing with a parent’s refusal to accept help, to go to the doctor, to clean up, etc. If this happens to you, first accept that your parents are adults and they have the right to make their own decisions. Then, change your technique. Ask your parents to do something for you, not for them. Tell them they could give you great peace of mind by complying with what you’re asking.
Choose your battles with stubborn parents, only putting your foot down on issues relating to safety or other high-priority subjects. Treat them like adults and work to understand the motivation behind their anger, denial, or resistance. Addressing the source of the issue could help with future episodes.
Combat Caregiver Stress and Burnout
Being a caregiver is hard.
You aren’t doing something wrong if you feel tired, stressed, sad, or scared. It’s normal. You must take care of yourself before you can take care of a parent. As soon as you notice signs of caregiver stress (e.g. depression, anxiety, fatigue), you need to pause and regain your balance. When under stress, we may fall into the cycle of inadequate sleep, poor eating habits and emotional distress. The body’s stress response causes a decrease in attention span, perception, short-term memory, learning and word-finding. An effective caregiver is a well caregiver! Don’t let caregiving take over your entire life. Take time to focus on yourself, your hobbies, and self-fulfillment. Most of all, embrace role reversal. It may not be an equal trade, but you can gain so much from time spent parenting your parent.
Know When to Ask for Help
Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. If caring for your parent becomes too difficult or problematic, help is available.
Contact Arista Home Care Solutions or call 419-754-1897 to find out more about our in-home senior care and respite services. We can help.