September 7, 2021

Caring for elderly parents can bring up challenging emotions, but caregivers can overcome these with simple tips.

If you were to identify the top five emotions you encounter in meeting the care needs of your aging parents, what would they be? Maybe you would first think of emotions like love, compassion, and in some cases, even frustration or stress. Would anger make the list? In a number of cases, though family members might not want to acknowledge it, the answer is a resounding YES. 

The truth is that lots of adult children grapple with the reality 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. Observing a decline in their health upends that belief, which could leave us feeling disillusioned, let down, fearful, anxious, and yes – angry. 

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

Add to that the increased stress experienced by people who are part of the sandwich generation – raising children at home and caring for elderly parents at the same time. As many as one out of three adults with senior parents believe their parents need some degree of care in addition to emotional support.

So, how can you transition to a more favorable mindset? The main step is arriving to a place of acceptance. Laura Cartensen, psychology professor at Stanford University and director of its 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.” 

Open, honest communication is also essential when caring for elderly parents. Family members and their parents should express their thoughts in regard to what is working well in the relationship, and what needs to be improved. Sometimes just understanding the other person’s perspective makes all the difference. For instance, a senior parent may exhibit frustration with being prompted to put on his or her glasses. An appropriate response might be to explain the reason behind the reminders – because of a concern that the parent may fall, for instance. A compromise can then be reached.

Concentrating on the quality time your caregiving role affords you with your senior parents, while handling your parents’ needs with your own, is key. Among the best ways to accomplish this is by choosing a trusted care partner to assist. Get in touch with Continuum, providers of professional, compassionate home care St. Louis area families trust at (314) 863-9912 or (636) 861-3336 for more information. Visit our Service Area page for a full list of the communities we serve.