There are certain milestones we may encounter in our lives that, while not necessarily negative, are known stressors. Losing a job. Starting a new job. Getting married. Getting divorced. And one that we in the home care industry are particularly mindful of: the impact on family members who are caring for aging parents.
So many conflicting emotions arise for those in the role of family caregiver, and these are exacerbated when trying to share responsibilities with siblings or other family members. There are past hurts and resentments that can resurface, conflicts related to decision-making, and the stress of trying to navigate what feels like a role reversal with a parent who once took care of us.
For these reasons and more, family therapy can be a wonderful addition to a family caregiver’s toolbox to ensure the very best possible care for aging parents, as well as his or her own emotional wellbeing. Here are just a few benefits of family therapy as parents grow older:
- It provides care for the caregiver. Taking on the role of family caregiver can be overwhelming in and of itself, but add in additional responsibilities, such as caring for children and managing a home while maintaining a career, and you’ve got a recipe for stress. Family therapy helps caregivers sort through difficult emotions and reach resolutions.
- It offers support through grief. Grief comes in many forms, and often begins in the early stages of caring for aging parents, as family members work through the inherent changes happening now and to come. When an aging parent is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia, the decline in cognitive functioning leads to an additional degree of grief. A family therapist can help all members of the family work through their grief together.
- It helps the family as a unit. A family therapist is focused on achieving what is best for the whole family and its cohesiveness, through challenges such as issues related to inheritance and other financial concerns, medical decisions, and any difficult family dynamics.
If in-person therapy sessions for your family aren’t possible due to geographic restraints, continued COVID-19 distancing concerns, or any other reason, phone or Zoom sessions can be just as effective. The key is for participation to be a priority for all family members involved, and to make therapy appointments a consistent, routine commitment.
If you need a partner to provide trusted respite care services while you devote the time needed for family therapy, or if you need the guidance, coaching, and support of a professional care manager, give us a call at (213)383-2273 or contact us online. With both a trusted family therapist and the aging care professionals at JFS Care (the Jewish family home care division of Jewish Family Services) by your side, your family and the senior in your care can overcome obstacles and enjoy quality time.