When Roles Reverse: 5 Tips for Taking Care of Elderly Parents Without Losing Yourself

When Roles Reverse: 5 Tips for Taking Care of Elderly Parents Without Losing Yourself
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As more family members take on the role of caring for aging family members, some of them are even able to get paid for the work. Taking care of elderly parents is a big responsibility that can creep up on us as our family members age and mature. One of the facts of aging is that roles between parents and children often reverse, leading some children to care for their parents like they were once cared for.

Here are five tips for making sure that you take care of your parents without hassle.

1. Share Your Interests

When you’re trying to care for your elderly parents, you might easily take the approach that you need to submit yourself fully to their needs. While caring for your loved ones can put petty things into perspective, you need to maintain your personality to thrive.

Part of maintaining your identity comes down to continuing to pursue your hobbies and interests. You need to maintain contact with the people and the hobbies that make you happy so that you don’t lose yourself. These are the things that give you pleasure and need to be maintained in order for you to feel like you’re truly yourself.

However, there are probably ways for you to pursue those interests without leaving your loved one behind. When you can share your interests with your aging parent, the rewards are two-fold. Not only does your loved one get to get out of the house and see the world a little more, but they also get to learn more about you.

While you might not be able to experience things at full capacity, you can still keep in contact with things that matter to you.

2. Build a Network

Part of taking your loved one’s health and mobility needs into your hands is to find a network of people to help you out. You can’t truly serve your parents if you’re stressed out and tired all the time. You also need space on those days when things get too stressful.

If you have siblings or other family members who are your age, see what they can commit when it comes to your parents. If you have cousins who you grew up with, they might be willing to help you out one day out of the week, knowing you’d do the same for them. You might even have friends or colleagues who live nearby who don’t mind stopping by to check in on your parents.

If they need an errand run, you can have someone who is there to pick up the trash once a week, deliver milk and eggs, or to help them get to religious services. It takes a real community to take care of our aging loved once. Where once they pulled out all the stops to ensure we had everything we needed, we need to give them the same.

3. Learn To Say No

One of the hardest things to say to your aging parents is the word “no”. When you feel deeply responsible for their well being, you’re not going to want to tell them you can’t do anything. You’re going to want to pretend you’re a superhero and that you can do anything they need.

However, you need to respect your own limitations.

We all hit a limit with everyone in our life. When that happens, it’s vital to know that it’s time to take some space and find an alternative solution. If you’ve found a network, like in point number two, you can ensure that you have someone take your place when you need a break.

You can even have hired staff who is ready to step in part-time when you need it. You don’t have to pay for full-time care if you don’t need it but having someone who is available on a part-time as-needed basis can be a lifesaver. Have them around so that when you need someone full-time, you can get their help finding someone who fits the bill.

Check out this link if you’re looking to read more about home care companions.

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4. See a Therapist

You need to get a lot off of your chest when you’re working with your loved one all the time. There are moments when this role reversal is going to feel odd and awkward. It’s challenging to think of your parents in any way other than the way you used to feel like a kid.

However, you can’t saddle your parents with baggage when they’re struggling just to get up and down the stairs. You need to maintain a healthy balance fo your own mental health needs and theirs as well when you’re in this state.

The best way to make sure that everyone feels comfortable is to see a psychotherapist to talk about your feelings. When you talk about how you’re feeling and what you’re going through, you’re less likely to make your parents deal with these emotions. This can maintain peace in stressful times.

5. Ask For Advice

When you’re first taking care of your parents, you might think that you know what to do and can handle it all on your own. The reality is that you need help. All of us need help when making this role reversal.

Ask for advice from everyone including your friends, colleagues, and even religious figures in your life. Many people have been through this before and if you’re not shy about asking for advice, you can get much-needed help.

Taking Care of Elderly Parents is a Big Responsibility

For some of us, taking care of elderly parents is a choice while for others there’s no other option. The responsibility lies on our shoulders as we owe our parents so much. Even through the challenges, it can be a beautiful part of our changing relationship with our parents.

If you need to adapt their home to their changing needs, check out our guide for tips.

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