Some families joke about it: I changed your diaper, you’ll change mine. It’s good for a laugh…until it becomes true. Caregiving for your parents is often uncharted territory, and can develop slowly, or instantly.
Serious illness or dementia aside, even relatively normal aging presents challenges to both the parents and their children. In fact, can there be joy? Yes.
The Challenges of CareGiving for Your Parents
Many things change as we age. Depending on how well your parents took care of themselves while they were parenting you, you may find yourself dealing with a parent who has diabetes, osteoporosis, difficulty with diet or sleep, or all of the above.
Additionally, many people put off having children of their own, or are starting a second family in middle age, or have their own health issues when the need to pay more attention to our parents may begin. Now you are caregiving your children AND your parents while needing to care for yourself too.Some families joke about it: I changed your diaper, you'll change mine. #CareGiving for your parents. Click To Tweet
Unfortunately, according to the National Council on Aging:
- Diabetes affects 12.2 million Americans aged 60+, or 23% of the older population
- Approximately 92% of older adults have at least one chronic disease, and 77% have at least two.
- Four chronic diseases—heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes—cause almost two-thirds of all deaths each year.
- Every 15 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 29 minutes, an older adult dies following a fall.
Just when you think the answer must be that you take complete responsibility, just as you do with a young child, other issues arise. They are not children. They want their space. They need you, but they still long for the independence they have enjoyed all of their adult lives.
Seriously, can there be joy?
Have you ever come into a room where people are laughing, and you have no idea why? But everyone is laughing so hard, perhaps turning red in the face, gasping for air and clutching their stomachs, that you too begin to laugh? Finding joy can be like this. You just have to allow it, and it can happen.
While such spontaneous joy may be easier found with small children, there are joys to be found when caregiving your parents as well. These joys may be more subtle, take more of a conscious effort. For those that have been through it, perhaps consider it’s a bit like finding joy in the teenage years where the pleasure can come from seeing your teen make a good decision, or spontaneously be helpful and you realize you did a good job with them.Find the subtle joys of #caregiving for your parents Click To Tweet
When parenting your parents, these subtle joys can include:
- Taking time to discover more family history.
- Finding out more about their memories of their early years, which may not have been shared when you were still under their care.
- Seeking advice on things you still have ahead of you, and admiring their wisdom even if you think you may do it a different way.
- Recognizing that one day you will be in their shoes, and making plans to make that happen the way you want.
- Slowing down. As they slow down, it can be a joy to slow down a bit with them, and enjoy that pace.
Finally, caregiving for your parents can help you pay even more attention to your current state of support, and be more appreciative.
Help with CareGiving for Your Parents
There are many resources you can find online and in your community which can help with end-of-life caregiving. Here are a few resources to get you started:
- American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy Caregiving for the Elderly
- The Caregivers Voice check out their humor blogs too: http://thecaregiversvoice.com/tcv-humor/
- Out of Canada The CareGiverNework
Caregiving for our parents is sometimes chosen, but often is just something that happens over time. As with parenting your children, it may become especially important to find help and support in the challenges, and reminders to seek the joy. If you are the sibling that most caregiving falls upon, remember you are also the child who will have the closest relationship.#CareGiving for you parents is hard, but there's help! Click To Tweet
Caregiving means care receiving as well.
- Use our CareGiving Quick Guide for nutritional and sleep aids that may help.
- Find ways to self nurture so that you can better nurture those you love. We recommend the blog In Truth and Beauty by coach Kelley Grimes. Her FREE mobile app may help give you the peace, and patience, to get through you day.