We feel unsure of the role of having to start watching over them or giving them direction. It's uncomfortable. It doesn't fit our accustomed role with our parents to be insisting that they do what we think is best for them rather than the other way around.  And it's hard work. It takes up  lot of our time, sometimes for what feels like no thanks at all.

After years as a consultant for those with aging loved ones, and having the direct experience of being a caregiver myself, here are a few tips for those whose parents fall into the difficult category.

1.  Don't be afraid to put yourself first sometimes.  Yes, your parent needs you and you want to be responsible. But if you never look at your own personal priorities, you will begin to resent helping. It's ok to say "no" from time to time, when your own obligations to family, work or yourself must have your attention.  That means take breaks, rest, and have a good time.

2.  Know and respect your own limits.  None of us are good at every aspect of taking care of aging parents. Asking for help or declining to do certain things for an aging parent is reasonable. If you absolutely hate a chore that needs to be done, delegating it, enlisting another person to do it or paying for a service are options worth your attention.

3.  If your aging parent has dementia, forget expecting thanks, praise or even recognition for the great job you are doing. It's not realistic to have this expectation from an elder with brain impairment.  If you are hoping for appreciation every time (or any time, depending on how far advanced the dementia is), you are going to be disappointed. Accepting this is a way to make peace with your parent's limited cognitive abilities.  Forgive them for the difficulty they create and do what you need to do to help them.

4. Love yourself for trying.  Your efforts may not always succeed.  You may feel guilty you're not doing enough or if you get angry or impatient with a difficult parent.  You're human and caregiving is a very tough job at times.  Appreciate your own attempts, your own loving attention and work.  All you need to do is give the effort with best intention.  That is worthy of your self respect every time.
Carolyn spent the majority of her 10 year nursing career caring for elders as a visiting nurse.  She is educated and experienced in working with families on health-related issues. She devoted her 27 year litigation career to representing inju... Read More




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