Aging Parents — Part 2

“There are only four kinds of people in the world – Those who have been caregivers, those who currently are caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.” – Rosalynn Carter

Sobering thought, isn’t it?

When my son was little, I squeezed copious items from my To-Do List into 24 hours before toppling, exhausted, into bed at night. I didn’t think Life could get more hectic.

Was I ever wrong — raising Domer was a breeze compared to caring for his grandmother!

Caring for an aging parent tends to fall on the shoulders of one ‘child.’ If you’re the elected caregiver (like me), here’s my advice:

  1. Plan for this stage of life before it happens. Don’t wait until Mom or Dad is incapacitated to learn their wishes for those Golden Years.
  2. Get help before you need it. Friends and neighbors, church members, community resources, home aides — all can spell you off.
  3. Accept that care giving (and old age) sometime suck. The alternative isn’t so great either.
  4. Take time for yourself. Don’t become so immersed that you fail to eat, exercise, or sleep. Don’t neglect YOU!
  5. Find an outlet for your frustrations. Beat a tennis ball, listen to music, journal, pull weeds, go shopping, whatever helps you through the dark times.
  6. Accept your limitations. You can’t do everything, but do what you can to the best of your ability at the time.
  7. Find ways to Laugh. You’re not at the same stage your parents are. You’re young, healthy, and have your entire life ahead. LIVE!
  8. Pray. We all need a Companion who understands and supports us unconditionally. Even if you have the most wonderful spouse and siblings, you’re going to find care giving difficult and challenging, and you’ll need all the help you can get.
  9. Be kind. Maybe you had a rough childhood or the teenage years were a battle zone. Don’t revisit those feelings. Forgive the wrongs. Your parents probably did the best they could under the circumstances. Try to return the favor.
  10. Accept your feelings and don’t be afraid of them. Feelings are just feelings. Who can fault you for feeling angry at times, or cheated, or just a bit envious of those not facing this ordeal?

And if you’re not the caregiver:

  1. Don’t be judgmental. You’re not handling the day-to-day burden, so don’t take sides or grouse that your sibling “isn’t doing it right.”
  2. Accept your feelings. You might feel envious of a sibling getting your parents’ time and attention; regretful over not being present to help shoulder the load; guilty over your relief at being “out of sight, out of mind.” Who could blame you?
  3. Support your care giving sibling. Provide a sounding board for his or her frustrations and concerns.
  4. Remember, this isn’t about you. Don’t wax eloquent on the fabulous vacations you’re taking while sibling is immersed in worries over Mom and Dad. Don’t choose this time to quit your job, divorce, or try to become the center of attention.
  5. Offer suggestions when asked; volunteer to show up and help. Many hands lighten the load, you know.
  6. Express your gratitude — often. Would you really like the tables to be turned?

Okay, Friends, what did I miss??

17 thoughts on “Aging Parents — Part 2

  1. Debbie, outstanding list of advice! Wow…you nailed it!

    “Take time for yourself. Don’t become so immersed that you fail to eat, exercise, or sleep. Don’t neglect YOU!”

    That is so true, because we can’t be a good caregiver if we don’t take CARE of ourselves.

    “Accept your feelings and don’t be afraid of them.”

    Also true, because all sorts of feelings can come up. And I think acceptance overall is important because it makes going the experience easier.


    That’s probably the most important because it’s where we find the most strength and guidance.

    Thank you so much for sharing this post today, my friend. I’m absolutely sure it will help others.

    Have a super day!

    • Thank you, Ron. I appreciate your caring words of comfort because I know you, too, lived through this — and survived!

      One of the harder things is taking time to care for yourself when you’re immersed in caring for a loved one. You don’t want to be viewed as selfish by doing ‘frivolous’ activities such as going to the movies or shopping, but golly, you’ve got to get away now and then. I keep reminding myself it’s for my own sanity! And any guilt I might feel is a small price to pay for the knowledge that I’m actually caring for BOTH of us by taking time for me!

      Have a super weekend, dear!!

    • Thanks, Suzi. I’m sure I must have missed something, but I didn’t want to let this post ‘vegetate’ while I immersed myself in research. I’m counting on those who’ve gone before me — or are undergoing a similar situation — to add to the knowledge!

  2. Don’t forget that there will be times when you’re exhausted, and can’t do anything but grit your teeth and get through it. And when you’re frustrated an angry, don’t take it out on your parent. Go home and slam a door. 😉

    • YES, absolutely, Linda, and thank you for reminding me of that! I’ve been known to slam a door or two before, but once, I almost slammed one right off its hinges — and decided to find another outlet. Now, I carry my racquet and a few balls to the tennis court and pound away — better exercise and most fulfilling!

  3. Great advice all the way around. It’s easy to micro-manage when you aren’t there. And when you’re tired and doing your best it’s easy to be more sensitive to suggestions. Planning is also so key. I’ve found humor makes the death and dying conversations easier. My Mom and I tease a lot about her jewelery. I’m an only child that competes with a Doberman who could be sporting diamond earrings if I’m not careful.
    I also found passive aggressive behavior is fun once in awhile–if your Mom likes a teaspoon of sugar in her coffee add an extra half. Ha. Call your sister when you’re sure she’s a little busy and hand the phone to your Mom just to chat. Hehehe. Evil.
    Ok. I should go now. I’m probably the kind of girl your Mom wouldn’t want you to play with. 😀

    • Katybeth, I laughed out loud at your last sentence!! Thanks for making my morning! I also got a kick out of imagining Trinket with diamond earrings on! Seriously, I think you only children are probably the luckiest — none of that sibling rivalry drama. Domer knows I’ve got stuff well planned (not that he agrees 100% with my decisions, but part of him figures I just *might* come back and haunt him if he doesn’t follow through, ha!)

  4. You’ve got a comprehensive list here! All good advice and things to remember. I can see why dealing with an aging parent would be harder than raising a child. I’m not looking forward to that time…

    • You know, Janna, it’s about as close to ideal as it comes to have your kids well into young adulthood before your parents reach the care-needing stage. That way, you’re not stretched like a rubber band between tasks and you don’t have to carry around a bucket load of guilt for not doing either job well!

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  6. Excellent advice, Debbie. I have a good friend who, because she happens to be unemployed (not by choice) and female, it’s fallen on her to take care of both of her ailing parents. She has two brothers and neither will lift a finger. Problem is, she has trouble looking for a job because of the demands on her. I feel so bad for her that, whenever I get free tickets to a gala or to the theater, I bring her along. Makes me sad. I have not had to be a caregiver. My parents managed for years. Then one day, around the time I moved to California, they headed to Florida to be near my oldest brother. And then their health deteriorated, leaving my brother to care for them. That lasted two years and then they both passed away within a few months of each other. But who knows? Maybe one day, I’ll be a burden on my children. Either that or I better teach Henry and Oliver how to do laundry, make meals and give me my meds. 😉

    • Oh, Monica, I’m positive Oliver at least would help out! Sir Henry? Hmm, not so sure about that — as you know, royals are used to being waited on, not serving others, ha!

      You’re a good friend to treat your unemployed pal now and then! Caring for TWO ailing people must be so hard. I hope her parents have provided for her in their will because it sounds as if she’s going to need help when all this is over.

    • Blessings on you, Tanya — you KNOW how hard it can be. Even in the best of circumstances, for a ‘child’ to care for a parent is challenging. I know your dad must be very appreciative for your help! Do get out now and then — and take good care of yourself!

  7. I don’t think you missed a thing, Debbie. You really covered everything from every perspective. I’m grateful to have a sibling to tag-team with when it comes to helping my parents out. Having someone who shares your pain and frustration, and who can laugh about things with you, goes a long way in keeping your sanity.

    • You are sooo right, Terri. I can’t tell you how many phone conversations my sister and I have had over this one. Only someone who’s “been there, done that” knows how important it is to keep your sense of humor, too!!

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