Elderly Parent Carefinder

If you find yourself in the position of becoming an elderly parent carefinder for your mom or dad, then one of the things you need to be aware of is the tendency to be seen as ‘taking over’ and over-stepping your role.  They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and there is nothing more fraught with difficulty than trying to help and elderly parent – – except actually becoming their caregiver.

So what are some of the warning signs that you may be taking over?  There’s a thin line between providing help and assistance, and being seen as trying to take over.  If you’re an elderly parent caregiver and you answer “yes” to any of the following questions, then you may be overstepping your role, and it may be time to take a deep breath, a few steps back, and another view at what’s really happening:

  1. Do you sometimes sound like a parent talking to a child instead of an adult talking to another adult?
  2. Do you make assumptions about your elderly parent’s needs without asking them first, or consulting with them as to what they need?
  3. Do you make appointments and other arrangements for your elderly parent without first asking for their time and date preference?
  4. Are you quick to offer suggestions before gathering your elder’s input on whether they even think that a problem exists?
  5. Do you make decisions that affect your elderly parent without asking them first for their input?
  6. Does your elderly parent accuse you of trying to take over, or to run their life?
  7. Do you do things for your elderly parent that they could do for themselves, if they were given a bit more time, or a helping hand or assistive devices?

In this time-pressured world where we often identify accomplishments as the ability to make quick decisions, it’s tough to remember to encourage an elderly parent to make their own decisions.  Asking for their input, or taking the time to cajole them or convince them that there are other options to consider, is the long way around to getting a decision made.  However, this may be your most effective course of action if you want to remain in your elderly parent’s life, and especially if you want to help them.

So, after you’ve realized that it’s time to step back, don’t step back so far that you automatically offer to be your elderly parent’s caregiver.  Unlike professional caregivers who go home after their shift, you would always be on call, facing some of these situations:

  • What to do with a resentful spouse and angry children?  Time will be taken away from them, so how will they deal with it?
  • Feeling unappreciated by the rest of the family.  Either you will feel your work isn’t appreciated, or the other family members will get used to what you’re doing.
  • Feeling unappreciated by your elder.  Even though you’re the one helping, there sill be criticism, complaints and the lack of gratitude for you to try to handle.
  • Making do with lower future earnings.  Elderly parent care causes you more stress and time off work, which is never rewarded in the future.
  • Suffering from unemployment, as you may lose your job.
  • Dealing with feelings of guilt, when you realize your work is never done, and there is always more to do.
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