As your parents age there may come a time when they are no longer caring for you, but you will be caring for them. This switch in roles can be difficult to cope with as you never want anything to happen to your parents. Role reversal can be challenging, so here are five tips to help you manage.
Be honest with yourself
Seeing your parents change as they age is difficult, but it’s a fact of life. Be open about how you’re feeling and truthful with yourself. It’s okay to be worried, stressed, sad, or overwhelmed – this is not an easy transition. It’s important to continue to live your life and adjust to the changes at your own pace. Being there for your parents will put them at ease and help you transition into this new role.
Your parents may need more help now, but you have your own life too. It is not necessary to sacrifice your job, kids, significant other, or hobbies/interests to be able to care for your parents. I repeat, it is NOT necessary for you to sacrifice any part of your life to care for your parents. If your parents are living with you, try to discuss with them what your needs are, such as privacy, alone time, family time, etc. Clearly state what you are able to help them with and assess whether what you are capable of is enough.
Respect their wishes
As you set boundaries with your parents, it is equally important to establish their needs as well. This may take some compromising, but you need to respect their desires. Listen attentively to what they feel they need from you and what parts of care they need assistance with. It’s also important to discuss end of life care and wishes. Even though this talk can be extremely difficult, it needs to be done before it’s too late. They are depending on you to fulfill their wishes in their last years and you should absolutely respect that to the best of your ability.
When taking on care for your parents, or anyone for that matter, being organized is the key to a smooth role transition. Keeping schedules and maintaining a clean and organized environment will help you immensely during this transition to stay on top of things. Keeping track of appointments, events and scheduling daily activities (like chores or grocery shopping) will be beneficial for all. Keeping your environment organized will ensure you have any supplies you need readily available and know what you may need more of. It’s also much more safe to keep the environment clean, not lose track of important things, and have less to trip on.
Know your supports
You need to know you’re not alone. There are so many resources available to you that are affordable and reliable to help care for your parents. Respite, day programs, senior community events/programs, and rentable mobility aids are just a few. Rely on your family and friends more. They are likely more than willing to lend a hand when you’re struggling.
This transition of role-reversal is never easy but it is a reality that must be faced. We all age, it’s a normal process we all go through. It’s ok to have feelings about this too – just keep living your life the best you can for yourself, your parents and your family.