As a primary caregiver for my mother, coming to terms that my mother was aging along with many medical problems was not easy especially when I had a husband, baby and worked full-time. I realized that my anger triggered feelings of guilt and worried that I may not be an adequate caregiver or just a selfish daughter. This a life changing experience that our family never discussed because “aging” just was not part of our conversation. As a matter of fact, usually always a joke somewhere, my nephew(at age 6) asked his grandmother that when she passed , if he could inherit her motorized scooter and we would all laugh and put a sticker with his name on it as grandma drove around so all knew it was his and it made him feel good. After caring for my mother for many years and conducting home visits with those who care for their aging loved ones as a Social Worker, I was grateful for the experience because I was able to see the families objectively and have a good understanding of the caregivers needs as well as the aging loved one.
Useful tips in managing difficult feelings:
• Self-care. It is necessary to put yourself first sometimes. Proper rest, healthy food and exercise are basic needs for every person. If caring for a parent is causing you to burn the candle at both ends, it might be time to ask for help and to accept support.
• Be realistic. If your parent is seriously impaired by an illness and cannot safely care for themselves, you might not be qualified to care for them either. Placing them in a care home or hiring a professional aide might be the most responsible thing you can do.
• Don’t expect praise or thanks from your parent. They might feel incredibly grateful, but the illness or their own feelings of guilt and inadequacy might make it too difficult to express their feelings. Take pride in knowing you’re doing the best you can for your mom or dad.
Watching parents age with illnesses is a difficult process, but you’re not alone. Everyone who has cared for an elderly parent has experienced similar feelings and challenges but know there are professionals you can turn to for guidance.