If you were to list the top 5 emotions you encounter in caring for aging parents, what would they be? Maybe you’d first think of feelings like love, compassion, and in some cases, even stress or frustration. Would anger make the list? In many cases, though family caregivers may not wish to admit it, the answer is a definite YES.
The reality is that a great many adult children struggle with the fact that their parents are growing older. Growing up, our parents may have exuded strength, health, and control, giving us an underlying impression that they would always be there for us. Witnessing a decline in their health upends that idea, which could leave us feeling disillusioned, let down, fearful, anxious, and yes – angry.
As the tide shifts and older parents become the ones needing care, family dynamics may become complicated. And the negative stereotype in our society towards aging tells us that getting older is something we must resist or deny – something that may have a direct impact on how both adult children and their aging parents handle age-related decline.
Add to that the increased stress experienced by those who are part of the sandwich generation – taking care of children at home and aging parents at the same time. Approximately one out of three adults with senior parents believe their parents need some amount of care in addition to emotional support.
So, how can you transition to a more positive mindset? The most crucial step is arriving to a place of acceptance. Laura Cartensen, psychology professor at Stanford University 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.”
Open, honest communication is also essential. Family care providers and their parents should express their thoughts about what is working well in the relationship, and what needs to be improved. Sometimes just learning the other person’s perspective makes a big difference. For example, a senior parent may voice frustration with being reminded to put on his or her glasses. A recommended response may 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.
Concentrating on the high-quality time your caregiving role gives you with your aging parents, while balancing your parents’ needs with your own, is key. One of the most effective ways to accomplish this is by finding a reliable care partner to assist. Reach out to JFS Care, providers of compassionate home care services in Burbank and surrounding areas, at 213-383-2273 to learn more.