September 4, 2021 by
If you were to list the top five emotions you encounter in caring for aging parents, what would they be? Maybe you’d first think of emotions like compassion, love, and sometimes, even stress or frustration. Would anger make the list? In many cases, though family caregivers may well not like to disclose it, the answer is a definite YES.
The stark reality is that many adult children struggle with the fact that their parents are getting older. Growing up, our parents might have exuded health, strength, and control, giving us an underlying impression that they would always be there for us. Witnessing a decline in their health upends that notion, which can leave us feeling let down, disillusioned, anxious, fearful, and yes – angry.
As the tables turn and aging parents become the ones needing care, family dynamics can become challenging. And the negative stereotype in our culture towards aging tells us that growing older is something we must deny or resist – something that can have an influence on how both adult children and their aging parents handle age-related decline.
Add to that the increased stress experienced by people who are part of the sandwich generation – raising children at home and caring for 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 favorable mindset? The main step is arriving at a place of acceptance. Laura Cartensen, Stanford University psychology professor and director of its 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 when caring for aging parents is also critical. Family caretakers and their parents should share their thoughts in regards to what is working well in the relationship, and what needs to be changed. Frequently just understanding the other person’s perspective makes a huge difference. For example, a senior parent may communicate annoyance with being prompted to put on his or her glasses. A recommended response may be to clarify the reason behind the reminders – because of a fear that the parent may fall, for example. A compromise can then be reached.
Concentrating on the quality time your caregiving role provides you with your aging parents, while handling your parents’ needs with your own, is key. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by choosing a reliable care partner to assist. Email or call At Home Independent Living at (315) 579-HOME (4663) if you’re looking for solutions for independent living in Salina or the surrounding areas.