|If your parent is unable to care for themselves, it is often an unavoidable feeling...while you tie their shoelaces, change their diaper and help them walk..it DOES feel like you are now their parent. Regardless of the circumstances, you are not, and never will be, their parent. Although many of the same techniques work when dealing with them (such as distraction while performing a task), viewing the relationship between parent and child as reversed is potentially dangerous to both of you.
To your parent, it is humiliating and dehumanizing. To you, the reversal in roles will only cause frustration. You will end up asking yourself the age old question: "Why doesn't he listen to what I have to say and do it?" If you treat your parent as an adult, you will both do better and feel better.
Knowing when to intervene is difficult. You need to respect their independence but also protect their safety and welfare.
If one parent is mentally competent, trust in their authority. Do not usurp his/her role. Your role is, then, to support the competent spouse and offer help and encouragement from the sidelines.
If you are caring for a lone parent or two parents who are unable to care for themselves, you must step in when safety to themselves and others becomes an issue.
What are you to do if your parent needs to make other choices but refuses to do so? Get outside advice from doctor's, social workers, clergymen, anyone they will listen to and respect.
Keep in mind that your parent's decisions are based on different priorities than your own. Your main concern is for their safety and well being. Their main concern may be the quality of their life, not the quantity. Understanding their point of view will help you avoid a battle.
If you face a situation where you don't know how much to intervene, contact a geriatric case manager or social worker. They are well versed in these matters. If you don't know where to find one, contact Mary Waggoner from the Elderly Care Konnection. She will be able to put you in contact with an agency, for free, who will be able to help you find the geriatric case manager or social worker you need.
Planning For The Future
by Mary Waggoner
|No one plans on taking care of their parents; yet women spend 17 years caring for their children and an additional 19 years caring for their parents!
With that in mind, it is never to late to prepare yourself and your parent for what may happen in the future.
The best way to do this is to be pro-active and discuss what your parent would like done. This conversation is often filled with feelings of apprehension and reluctance because many adult children are not sure what questions to ask or are in denial regarding the truths of aging.
When beginning the discussion, it is best to make sure you pick a time and place where you are both comfortable and will not be interrupted. Also, make sure you stop before your parent becomes cranky. There is no reason to have this conversation in one sitting. Many questions may be hard for your parent to answer. Below are suggestions of topics and questions which often need to be addressed.
A) NEEDS & CONCERNS: What is important to your parents? What do they need to feel secure? What are their concerns with regards to aging?
B) HOUSING: Is it important that your parents remain in their home? If that option becomes dangerous, where would they like to live?
C) FINANCIAL & LEGAL MATTERS: This is usually one of the hardest, especially between father's and daughter's. Be patient. If you have a brother, see if he can talk to Dad more easily. If not, ask if all their legal matters & papers are executed and where they are located. Are their finances sufficient enough to support their way of life?
D) HEALTH CARE: Does your parent like and trust their current doctor? Is their insurance coverage adequate? Do they need to purchase long-term care insurance? ( I do recommend doing so.)
E) DEATH & FUNERALS: What frightens your parents about dying? Is there a way you can help alleviate those fears? Are their any wishes/dreams they still want to complete? Where do they wish to be buried?
Although this may be difficult to do, it will prove invaluable when a decision needs to be made. You will feel confident that your parent's needs and wishes are being fulfilled to their liking.
Being prepared is one of the best ways to take care of yourself as a care giver. So often, we forget to take care of ourselves and burn-out, developing a case of what I call *DCGS*-Disenchanted Care Giver Syndrome. In order to circumvent DCGS, prepare yourself and your family. Educate yourself and your parent on what may happen in the future. But, most importantly: forgive yourself for not being able to do everything for everyone.
Mary Waggoner, President
Elderly Care Konnection
Keywords: Senior Care, Elderly Care, Care Giving, Parents