If you were to list the top five emotions you experience in meeting the care needs of your aging parents, what would they be? Maybe you would first think of emotions like compassion, love, and sometimes, even frustration or stress. Would anger make the list? In many cases, though family care providers would not wish to disclose it, the answer is a resounding YES. Caregiver anger is common for many family caregivers.
The truth is that a large number of adult children grapple with the fact that their parents are growing older. Growing up, our parents might have exuded strength, health, and control, giving us an underlying impression that they would always be there for us. Watching a decline in their health shatters that idea, which may leave us feeling disillusioned, let down, fearful, anxious, and yes – angry.
As the tables turn and aging parents become the ones in need of care, family dynamics can become complicated. And the negative stereotype within our culture towards aging informs us that growing older is something we need to resist or deny – something that can have an effect on how both aging adults and their adult children handle age-related decline.
Add to that the compounded stress experienced by people who are part of the sandwich generation – taking care of children at home and aging parents simultaneously. Nearly one in three adults with senior parents believe their parents require some amount of care along with emotional support.
So, how might you shift to a more positive mindset?
The most crucial step is coming to a place of acceptance. Laura Cartensen, Stanford University psychology professor 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.”
Honest, open communication is also important. Family caretakers and their parents should express their thoughts about what is working well in the relationship, and what needs to be altered. Sometimes just learning the other person’s perspective makes all the difference. For instance, a senior parent may exhibit irritation with being reminded to put on his/her glasses. An appropriate response might be to clarify the reason for the reminders – because of a concern that the parent may fall, for example. A compromise can then be reached.
Focusing on the quality time your caregiving role gives you with your senior parents, while balancing your parents’ needs with your own, is key. Among the best ways to achieve this is by selecting a dependable care partner to help. Connect with Generations at Home at 727-940-3414 to learn more.