Caregiving isn’t just about showing up to visit with your aging parents once in awhile. The scenario usually includes a change in health status (a fall, an illness, an incident) that sends a family into a crisis mode. Accelerated learning includes the practical issues – finances, insurance and living arrangements. There is also a new language to be deciphered – DPOA, POLST, Living Wills. In the middle of taking care of the most urgent needs, bigger issues can emerge. Emotions start bubbling up – some old, some new. These can include grief, anger, sadness,resentments, fear and confusion. In a loving and functional family, siblings will pull together and make it all look seamless. However, if a family is dysfunctional it can get complicated. Power struggles can emerge if more than one person wants to be in charge, others may block care, some may just pull away. Old arguments and resentments can pop up.
Regardless of the family dynamics, a major shift has occurred and things will never be the same. Remember, as with any life change, there are gifts and rewards that come with the new challenges. As family members readjust to a new normal, it is important to have a good support system to help ease the stress and keep your life manageable as you deal with this new reality.
Ø Have a few good friends to share this experience
Ø Join a support group for caregivers
Ø Find a good counselor to help untangle the emotions
Ø Ask for help
Ø Cook less – order out
Ø Laugh more – its good medicine
Ø Spend time with those who make you feel good
Most important, once the initial crisis is over, don’t let this consume you in a negative way. The time you have left with your aging parents can be best part of your time together.