As bittersweet as it was for your parents to watch you grow up and leave the nest, becoming the primary caregiver for your mom or dad can be even more emotionally taxing. Not only will you be dealing with the physical challenges of caregiving, you’ll also be reversing the traditional role you’ve played with your parent in respect to caregiving. This can have significant negative consequences on your mental health if you aren’t prepared for the challenge. Ebenezer Senior Living has compiled a list of ways to keep yourself and your loved one stable during this difficult transition.
Join a Support Group
Joining a support group for other adult children caring for their parents can be a tremendous help. In fact, you could look into joining a group as soon as you decide to become your parent’s caregiver, before you start feeling the strain or before you even start caring for them. It’s always reassuring to know you aren’t alone and that many others are going through the exact same struggles. It will also help give you a different perspective so you aren’t spending too much time in your own head.
Try to See Their Point of View
As challenging as this role reversal is for you, it’s just as difficult for your parent. They may become belligerent, lash out at you, or reject your offers of help, especially if they are dealing with memory problems. When this happens, try not to take it personally. Let your parent air out their frustrations, listen to them, and reassure them. If you notice that they seem down, take the initiative and do something nice for them, like going on a walk or treating them to a favorite meal. Remember, you’re in this together.
Remember to Take Care of Yourself
It’s easy to become consumed with your caregiver duties, especially if you’re worried about your parent’s physical or mental state. However, if you start neglecting your own mental health, your loved one will suffer as well. Set aside some time for yourself every day – for example, when your parent is napping or enjoying a show. If you find yourself becoming easily annoyed or frustrated, ask yourself if you’ve eaten yet or if you’ve slept long enough the previous night. If these issues persist, you may want to seek out a therapist for yourself or both you and your parent.
Look Into Respite Care Resources
Many senior living communities offer short-term respite care or stay-by-the-day programs designed for primary caregivers who need somewhere for their loved one to go when they aren’t available or when they need a break. Again, this is something you should do before the issue comes up, not while it’s happening. Locating a nearby senior living community that offers this service – like Ebenezer – will help ease your worries if you need to take an extended trip on short notice or if you simply can’t handle your daily responsibilities for whatever reason.
We hope that these tips helped ease your worries about becoming your parent’s primary caregiver or helped alleviate any issues you’re currently facing. If you and your loved one are considering making the move to a senior living community full-time, check out Ebenezer’s resources page.