As your parents get older and you have to assume more responsibility for their care, it can be a challenge. You want to do what is best for them, but you also want them to remain as independent as possible. Balancing the two – and your own life – can be one of the most difficult things you will ever have to do.
Years of being on their own and making decisions for themselves can lead to resentment when you try to take over the decision-making for your aging parents. Your parents see you as the child – someone that needs taking care of – not someone to take care of them. Here are some things you can do to help deal with difficult parents.
Consider what is best for everyone. Its easy to put their needs ahead of all else, especially if you are in an emergency situation. Before making any decisions, make sure you look at all options and understand the pros and cons to each. Don’t assume something will get better over time. Sometimes you have to seek help to accomplish what is best for everyone. Do not be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
Sometimes you have to say “no”. Not everyone can deal with the situations that arise when caring for difficult parents. Realistically look at your lifestyle and work in your new requirements. Can you fit in extra duties every week? Can you cut back in other areas? Remember, this will more than likely be a long term plan. If you cannot handle the burden, do not feel guilty. It is best for your parents to be cared for in an environment that is prepared for the challenge.
Do not expect something in return. Many times, as your parents age, mental illness and dementia leave them unable to understand what you are doing for them and why. Fights may start. And resentment may grow quickly. Go forth without expecting a lot of gratitude – in other words, do it because you want to, not because you want glory. When times get tough and you have trouble keeping perspective, reach out to others in your community to receive help for yourself.
Feel good about your efforts. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you cannot provide the care that a loved one requires. If you do your best and it is still not enough, that is alright. Be proud of giving it your best shot and do whatever is best for your parents – even if it means receiving help from outside sources. Even small amounts of help several times per week can lift the load off of your shoulders, and give you much needed time for yourself.
Don’t forget about you. When faced with a busy schedule, family responsibilities, and caring for a difficult parent, you can easily forget about yourself. You must take time to care for your own physical and mental well-being or you will not be able to provide the care and attention that your loved one needs.