Where to begin when your parents need you
Millions of adults in the U.S are falling into a new role: Caregiver for a Parent. Sometimes this happens suddenly because of an illness or injury; for others it may have become a slower process where one or both parents gradually become less and less independent. This new role brings an added stress and time commitment, but can also be an opportunity to grow as a person and reciprocate the loving relationship you received as a child.
For most of us, elder care needs are a very new experience and can be a daunting challenge. The best way to get off on the right foot is to start with respect.
Try to keep in mind how they are feeling. It isn’t easy for your parents to accept that they need help, but respecting their opinions is a vital part of being a good caregiver. Your parents should certainly extend that same courtesy of respect and they should treat you like an adult, but sometimes that can be hard for them if they feel they feel threatened or a heavy sense of loss. It is imperative that they feel a sense of control of their own future. If dementia is involved it can also hamper patience on both sides and that can make it more challenging to be respectful all the time. Keep this in mind as you negotiate though decisions from something as minor as what to eat for breakfast or major such as relocating to a new home. Having respect means that you are listening to them. Let them express their feelings even if those opinions are not “logical”. Talk it out, assure them that you understand them and that you are working with them to make the best decision.