A Delicate Balance: How to Support and Respect Your Aging Parents

Caring for an aging loved one can be tough work. You have responsibilities as a caregiver, for certain, and at times there can be some friction between your parent’s wishes and what you might think is best. Juggling it all is a tricky task, and while getting bogged down by caregiver burnout is a real threat to your emotional health, the odds aren’t insurmountable. It’s all about striking the right balance. Today we’re going to talk about a few things you should keep in mind trying to discover that equilibrium.

To Parent or Not to Parent

You might, at times, feel the urge to “parent” your parent; you may think your roles have reversed now that you’ve assumed the responsibility of caregiver, and that you must exercise a firm hand to keep your loved one safe.

While understandable, such action can also be counterproductive. Respect is a key component in the relationship you have with your parent; they might think you lack it if you cross the line into being a “helicopter child.”

While it’s true that you have to help your parents perform intimate physical tasks and help them make important life decisions, you must also respect their right to make their own choices and show support. Even in situations where you’ll have to step in and make decisions on their behalf (a memory-related impairment, for instance), you should try to do so with the utmost respect.

Open Communication, Always

caregiver support

The manner in which you choose to communicate can have profound effects on the relationship between you and your parent. By electing to talk things out with your loved one, as opposed to making assumptions and taking unilateral action, is always the way forward in building that bridge of respect they deserve.

Some conversations are difficult to start, to be sure, but in such scenarios, remember to start things off as you would any such chat — by treating your loved one as a competent adult who has their own agency. If you feel they might be in an unsafe environment (or have other concerns about their health), be honest, but never patronizing or dismissive of their point of view.

Control Your Emotions

There’s a whole host of emotions that come with caregiving, many of them complicated. It is not uncommon for you to sometimes feel frustrated or annoyed, but it’s important not to express those feelings negatively to your parent. In some cases, such as when a loved one is coping with memory issues, they are unaware that they are “slipping” and the experience can be equally upsetting for them. There’s no need to compound the situation by being outwardly irritated, and you can channel that frustration into proactive and positive steps to help your loved one.

Lift Your Parents Up

Building on the above point, positivity and support for your loved one go a long way in sustaining trust and respect. Empower them whenever possible. Provided they are cognitively sound, you should be backing them in making their own decisions. There may be some cause for you to push if your loved one is in an environment that is unsafe, mind you, but by and large, active support is the way to go.

Do you feel that assisted living is the next step for your loved one? Learn more about The Cottages by contacting us with any questions you might have today. We are here for you!