Life throws us curveballs at every stage of the game. As the adult children of aging parents, the responsibilities of caregiving often fall to our shoulders. In some cases, family members decide to step up and take on the responsibility of becoming the sole caregiver of an aging parent, but in other cases, some family members have this responsibility thrust upon them without much say in the matter. Regardless of how you may have come to be your parents’ caregiver, you want to ensure that you don’t become resentful toward the job and the others in your family. Here’s how you can manage your own expectations and thoughts so that you aren’t out of alignment with the reality of the situation you have found yourself in as the sole caregiver of your aging parents.
Set Clear Boundaries with Family Members and Yourself
If you have siblings who are not going to be involved in the ongoing care of your parent or parents, you need to get clear on what people may bring to the table and what they are not willing to help with from time to time. If there are things you can’t do, like lift your parents out of bed or be there on certain days, you need to have someone you can call upon for that help. There’s no need to get angry at family members who don’t want to do those things, but you just need to know so you can make other arrangements. When it comes to your own boundaries, don’t take on more than you can handle and be willing to get outside help if you need it. A CDPAP agency can help provide support to adult children of aging parents.
Maintain Some of Your Own Routine
Once you develop a routine for your parents, it is important that you take the time to establish your own routine so that you maintain some semblance of normality in your own life. You might utilize the services of home care of an adult day care while you are working during business hours. This allows you to come and go freely from work without having to be stressed out about not being home to care for your elderly parents. Again, if other family members don’t want to participate in the caregiving, don’t try to put up barriers that prevent them from coming around when they want to – such actions can tear families apart. Instead, try to coordinate with family members when they’ll visit so you can incorporate other interests into your routine. Perhaps you’ll exercise or visit a friend outside the home. Routine is important, so try to establish one as soon as possible to benefit everyone.
Expect Conflicts of Interest
No matter how hard you try, there will come a point where you and your family members will need to sit down and talk about what is going on with your parents. You might find that siblings who have had nothing to do with the caregiving suddenly appear interested when the end is near. Allow your family members their own space and time with your aging parents and avoid using phrases such as, “if you had been here all along…” or “it’s too bad you waited to spend time with them.” How your siblings choose to spend time with their parents is their business. Don’t try to inflict your values or judgment on them. It will help keep the peace and reduce the risk of conflict arising that could last for years to come.
Decisions should always be made with the best interest of your parents in mind. As the sole caregiver, it is easy for you to do that, but for people in the family who aren’t part of the day-to-day care, it may be difficult for them to realize why you need to be somewhere at a certain time or why things have to be done a certain way.