How to Handle This Unexpected Emotion When Providing Care Services for Parents

Caring for aging parents can impact family caregivers in a variety of ways.

If you were to list the top five emotions you encounter when providing care services for parents, what would they be? Maybe you’d first think of emotions like love, compassion, and sometimes, even frustration or stress. Would anger make the list? In many cases, though family members may not want to acknowledge it, the answer is a definite YES.

The truth is that a large number of adult children grapple with the fact that their parents are growing older. Growing up, our parents might have exuded strength, health, and control, giving us an underlying impression that they would always be there for us. Watching a decline in their health shatters that notion, that could leave us feeling disillusioned, let down, anxious, fearful, and yes – angry.

As the tide shifts and aging parents become the ones needing care, family dynamics may become complicated. And the negative stereotype in our society towards aging tells us that getting older is something we need to resist or deny – something that may have a direct effect on how both adult children and their aging parents handle age-related decline.

Add to that the increased stress experienced by individuals who are part of the sandwich generation – taking care of children at home and aging parents simultaneously. Nearly one in three adults with aging parents believe their parents need some amount of care in addition to emotional support.

So, how can you switch to a more positive mindset?

The most important step is arriving to a place of acceptance. Laura Cartensen, psychology professor at Stanford University and director of the Center on Longevity, explains, “The issue is less about avoiding the inevitable and more about living satisfying lives with limitations. Accepting aging and mortality can be liberating.”

Honest, open communication is also essential. Family care providers and their parents should express their feelings in regards to what is working well in the relationship, and what needs to be altered. In some cases just learning the other person’s perspective makes a big difference. For example, a senior parent may exhibit frustration with being prompted to put on glasses. An appropriate response may be to explain the reason behind the reminders – because of a concern that the parent may fall, for example. A compromise can then be reached.

Focusing on the high quality time your caregiving role provides you with your senior parents, while balancing your parents’ needs with your own, is key. One of the most effective ways to achieve this is by partnering with a trusted care partner to assist. Connect with Serenity Home Care, the top providers of respite care in Victoria, BC and surrounding areas, at 250.590.8098 to find out more about our customized in-home care for seniors.