Ask Away...: Elderly Parents: Here's How To Stay Sane

Monday, February 13, 2017

Elderly Parents: Here's How To Stay Sane


Taking care of a parent in their old age is also an honour. They brought you into this world, cared for you, did their best by you, and now is your chance to return that affection. Besides, it is far better than the alternative. However, it is a duty that is riddled with difficulties, with hurdles and heartache. It is complicated, tiring, hurtful and hard, and those are just the good days. It is a responsibility rife with emotions, and emotions are a serious obstacle to overcome. Some days it can drive you completely mad, the insanity of it, which is why we have come up with a few helpful guidelines that may be able to help you get through it all a bit easier.

A certain change has happened. You need to accept that.
When we imagine a parent/child relationship, our minds dart back to when we are kids, our parents looking after us in every way they could; school bullies, heartache, illness, fears, everything. Close your eyes and you will probably see a daddy or mummy caring for their kids. However, this has been flipped on its head and that can be a tough pill to swallow, but swallow it you must. The concept of parents caring for child is no longer applicable, and it is now your responsibility to care for them in that same loving way. You are now going to be singing from an entirely new hymn sheet. The paradigm has shifted and everything that comes with it has too; relationship, status quo, reliability, emotions, pride, help; all of it.

Try your hardest to give them the power wherever you can.
You may have come to accept that your parent is relying on you, but that doesn’t mean they have; so give them as much autonomy as you can. Phrase things carefully. Don’t tell them what to do, give them free will; a menu of options. Ask them for their advice so that they still feel as though they are your parents and not just an anchor. Make them feel as they they are still of inconceivable value to you, show them love and respect, tell them what is happening in your life, especially the things you are worried about. Your parent brought you up, not just as a parent but as a best friend, and that is the relationship they will crave. It will also let them feel as though they are in control of their lives. This is important, so on that note, try and let them make the decisions that affect their life. If they want to speak to the people at about medical insurance, then let them. If they want to move Care Homes then do everything you can to ensure that happens. Helplessness is a horrible feeling to have to live with.


Appreciate all the support you get.
When it comes to the caring of your elderly parent, you will soon learn that your best friends are your carers. Everyone that is involved in making the life that little bit better, that little bit easier and more bearable will become incredibly important to you. This could be the doctor; it could be the physical therapist, it could be the cleaning or the social health care worker; whoever it is, treat them with respect the deserve because, well, they are making your life easier and your parents live better. What’s more, the kinder and more appreciative you are, the more they will want to care for your loved one. So do go out of your way to say thank you, buy them flowers, a little present here and there, a Christmas and birthday card, their favorite chocolates. Anything you can to say thank you. The other person you are going to be relying on more than you realized is your partner. It won’t just be the emotional support they give you either. It will be the bond they can develop with your parent and that is because they share a duty, almost, a duty that has been supporting you. As such, they may be more comfortable talking to your partner simply because they can be more open; it is a way of protecting you from the baggage they feel they carry and pass on. But don’t let this cause concern or worry; it is normal and it isn’t a move designed to hurt, it is designed to protect and heal. So if your partner wants to be a dominant figure in the care of your parent then let them, because they will relieve some of the pressure and hurt that sits on your shoulders.

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