Becoming your parent’s parent?

Caregiving - An Introspective Guide

Remember those golden days when your mother used to run after your young and naughty self, trying hard to make you gulp down the lunch? Ever cherish the nostalgia of toddling towards school holding your father’s hands? Perhaps you are now a parent yourself, or not. Either way, you can clearly perceive the amount of love, care and dedication your parents put in to bring you up.

So when life comes full circle and offers you the opportunity to look after your ageing parents, it is your perfect chance to shower them with the same love, affection and gratitude.

Caregiving for elderly parents can be immensely taxing - both physically and mentally. It is somehow similar to taking care of a child but often involves more emotional impact, that snowballs over time and can result in stress, anxiety or depression.

1. Acceptance is the key

While certain day-to-day reminders can help you cope with the exhaustion, small steps can be taken in breaking down the responsibilities into easier tasks. But, before everything, you need to remember that acceptance is the key.

With growing age and consequent health issues, it might be increasingly difficult for your parents to live independently. For you the caregiver, the added responsibilities will surely be aplenty - from monitoring their daily health, diet and overall well-being to providing them company in the lonely hours.

However, things can be made much easier by simply accepting the caregiving duties towards your senior parents as a lifestyle change. The youth-obsessed attitude of human society subconsciously prompts us to treat old age as a period of undesirable senility. Changing this inherent attitude can heave down a lot of hurdles later.

2. “Never become your parents’ parents”...

In a TEDx speech, geriatric expert Amy O'Rourke pinpoints how our fear of watching our parents grow old, helpless and infirm in front of our own eyes often make us squirm at the idea of caregiving for them.

She mandates some basic ground rules of caregiving, starting with how you treat your parents in their hour of need. Be it out of compassion or pity, we often tend to manifest ourselves as our parents’ guardians. This tendency can adversely affect your relationship with your parents, as they need your support, not you bossing them around under the pretext of offering help.

By the eternal law of nature, elderly people are slower and weaker than a person at the prime of his or her youth. So a caregiving child has to show patience with their parents and duly assist them in their everyday activities. Often it can become strenuous for a professional person to wait around for your parent(s) to complete something flawlessly - be it taking the medicine on time or doing the doctor-prescribed workout.

But you have to remind yourself that supporting them is not an added hassle, rather a privilege. Instead of focusing on their shortcomings and your resentments, try to focus on the positives of having your parents around for company. Such introspections can help motivate you through hard times.

3. Remember to take care of yourself (too!)

Taking care of a parent should never be tantamount to harming your own health. Relaxation techniques like meditation, deep breathing, yoga and mindfulness exercises can help you alleviate the stress and exasperation. At times, if the stress overpowers your normal functionality, do not hesitate to seek psychological help. At the same time, you can always take the help of professional caregivers if it is becoming hard for you to manage single-handedly.

Caregiving makes one stronger and definitely a better human being. With your own busy life, you might have drifted apart from your parents - taking care of them can help bridge that gap again. At the end of the day, they are your first-ever and closest companions.

Contact Us if you’d like to speak about this in more detail or seek support to assist your elderly parents in Chennai. We’ll be more than happy to help!

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