"When you are young your father puts his coat on your back. There comes a time when you put your coat on his”. Japanese proverb.
There comes a time when most of us face the reality that a parent is declining and requires assistance. As a society, we generally expect that adult children bear the responsibility for caring for elderly parents or at least making arrangements for outside care. For many, this responsibility is readily accepted and becomes a normal extension of a loving parent/child relationship. For some, however, the choice is not simple. Maybe yours was a neglectful, self absorbed, distant or even abusive parent. What then? Are you obligated to care for a parent that didn't care for you well?
The answer depends on the degree of relational dysfunction and the emotional health of the adult child. For some, the scars and trauma of an abusive relationship run too deep, precluding their ability to effectively care for the parent. For those who are able, caring for this parent may offer the reward of making peace and finding acceptance. Another potential positive comes in breaking the cycle of abuse and allowing grandchildren to experience what it means to love another unconditionally.
Making the Decision to Care
When an adult child from a dysfunctional family returns to care for a parent, it’s critical for him to be prepared for old issues and emotions to return to the surface. He may feel like a young child again, filled with the same confusion, fear, and anger he felt all those years ago. The adult child caregiver will have to navigate complex family dynamics without resentment, while trying to muster up empathy for the failing parent. A tall order, right? Experts offer the following tips for adult children in this situation:
*Seek counseling. Consulting with a trained counselor, even if attempted years ago, can be helpful in this new phase of the relationship. It can help some caregivers “take the edge off” the feelings of resentment and allow them to go about the business of caring for a parent.
*Secure outside help. If you do not feel able to play an active care role, consider hiring an In-Home Care Provider to assist you in identifying the type of care needed, selecting qualified caregivers and managing the care schedule. Agency care is available on an hourly or 24 hr./Live-In basis depending on level of care required. You will have peace of mind knowing that your family member is being cared for by a highly trained and credentialed caregiver under the supervision of agency personnel.
*Appoint a Legal Guardian. If you are finding that it is virtually impossible for you to assist your parent with his or her needs in any way then consider having a court appointed guardianship established. The court transfers the responsibility for managing finances, living arrangements, and medical decisions to the guardian. Guardianship is an option when your elderly parent does NOT have a power of attorney or advanced directive in place AND has been declared incompetent based on expert findings.
*Look for the “silver lining”. View this process as an opportunity rather than a hardship. There is the possibility that some healing may take place as you work to make care arrangements for your parent. This healing may open the door to forgiveness and an acceptance of your parent’s limitations and flaws. It may enable you to reach their bedside in time to say goodbye and have peace after he or she passes on.
If the challenges of family and career are making life overwhelming and difficult to care for a loved one in need of assistance, we can help. Today’s families have very busy lifestyles so many times family members want to help and in many cases try to help but generally it is only a matter of time before it all becomes overwhelming trying to juggle too many tasks at one time. For most just knowing that companies like ours are here when you need support and an extra set of caring hands make the process less stressful and smooth.
Should a loved one need help, call us today 770-442-8664!
Easy Living Services, Inc.
Providing Home Care to Atlanta families since 1994