As an unpaid family caregiver, you’ll find yourself doing things for your parents that they did for you as a child. Or fussing impatiently while they do things in their own way, in their own sweet time. So it could be only natural to act as if the roles are now reversed, where you’re the parent and your parent is the child.
Natural, but wrong.
Navigating the emotional and physical labor involved calls for partnership, not role reversal. That partnership calls for you learning to give help when needed and for your parent learning to accept it, which can be hard after a lifetime of caring for others.
It can also be tricky at times – like if you need to help your parent with bathing and dressing and you’re of different sexes.
You’ll need to learn when to exercise control, and when not to.
If your mother wants to go to the supermarket with you, it may slow down your grocery shopping, but there’s no harm done and it gets her out of the house for a while. If your father has his own sequence of getting dressed, that’s no skin off your nose. If parents are semi-obsessive about how they like their coffee, when they want the blinds open and closed, how they like their pillows arranged, that’s okay. They’ve earned the right to – even if it isn’t your way.
It’s only for safety matters, like leaving the house without turning off the stovetop burners, where you need to put your foot down. Or for managing finances through a power of attorney when unpaid utility bills start piling up.
You’ll need to learn to slow down and do things at your parent’s pace. That slower pace can give you extra time to listen to music together, solve puzzles together, reminisce about their life before they became parents, and get to know your parent as a person, not just a mother or father.
From time to time, you’ll need to step off the caregiving treadmill and reconnect with your own professional, emotional, and family life. When you do, it’s okay to call on outside help – provided that help is the right kind.
Help with medical and physical problems may be necessary, but it’s not sufficient. While nobody can provide the kind of caregiving you do, it’s important to not neglect your parent’s emotional needs, values, priorities, preferences, likes and dislikes, and desire to live as independently as possible.
That’s why Senior Insights goes beyond the medical records to concentrate on those very things. We never offer off-the-rack, one-size-fits-all care plans. Instead, our holistic, coordinated senior care management plans are custom-designed for each individual client – and only after a thorough three-part needs assessment involving clients and their families, and covering state of health, state of mind, state of family and social relationships and overall lifestyle. So clients receive the specific care they need while avoiding the waste of money and independence that often comes with care they don’t need.
Nobody can provide the kind of care that a loving child does. But if you contact us, we’ll do our very best to come close.