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12 Ways Caregivers Can Improve Relationships With Aging Parents

Relationships Between Caregivers and Aging ParentsDoreen is an award-winning blogger, teacher and author. She can be found sharing regularly on her website, DoreenMcGettigan.com. This post was originally featured on The Diary of An Alzheimer’s Caregiver with Rena McDaniel.

Caregiving for our elderly parents can be one of the most anxiety-inducing, stressful times of our lives. It can be a time of all-consuming sadness and another unwanted lesson in letting go. It can also be a time we struggle with our siblings and extended family members, as well as with our own emotions.

For those taking care of their family members, you might find that your hours are extremely long, but the days with your loved one are growing shorter and shorter.

There are a few simple things you can do to lessen the stress and make the experience a more rewarding one.

Choose your battles with your parent and your siblings wisely. Ask these questions before battling:

  • What will it matter at the end?
  • How will it affect his/her quality of life?
  • Is there a compromise that can be made here?

And then consider these ideas.

12 Ways Caregivers Can Improve Relationships With Aging Parents

  1. First and foremost you must let go of your need to control them and/or the situation. They are not children and should never be treated as such.
  2. Do not try to change them, it is a waste of time and can cause massive amounts of frustration for you both. Instead work to change yourself and how you react.
  3. Breathe and count to ten. Repeat often.
  4. Listen to them more and talk at them less. When they are gone you will wish you had.
  5. Never get angry with them, ever. This may be their last day here, let them live it the way they want.
  6. Forgive them for everything. You do this not for them, but for you.
  7. Be kind to them and everyone involved in their care, including yourself.
  8. Let them eat and drink whatever they want, whenever they want. If they are diabetic and want to eat sweets find a compromise. If they refuse to drink water offer iced tea.
  9. If they want to stay up all night watching infomercials? Let them. If they want to sleep all day? Let them.
  10. If they no longer want to take their pills then throw the pills away. Do they really need those vitamins? If they need to take something for pain or blood pressure try to compromise with them. Crush any vital meds and put them in applesauce, pudding or ice cream.
  11. Never, ever argue with them. It will just frustrate you and make you both angry. What is the point of that? Give in and you will both be happier.
  12. If they don’t want to go out do not force them. They may be fearful of falling or of being a burden. Let them stay home but be sure to bring them back a plate, plenty of photos and cake. Don’t ever forget the cake.

During a parent’s illness is the worst time to air family grievances. Discuss your parent’s wishes while they can still express them. Elect someone to be in charge that will support their wishes. And be sure that you support whoever that person is. If that person is you accept help when it is offered. If no one offers then ask for it. You will need it.

While caregiving for a parent is without a doubt a sad situation it can also be one of the most meaningful things you will ever do. Don’t forget to take care of yourself. And never, ever turn down cake.

Doreen McGettigan

When Doreen’s brother was murdered, she was shattered. She dove head first into working; writing and learning. Anything to keep herself from feeling or dealing with her loss and the complete unraveling of her family. Doreen was fortunate enough to come in contact with some very special people at the Network of Victim Assistance. She joined a Homicide Survivors Group and then became active in the state of Pennsylvania’s largest and most comprehensive victim service organization, NOVA, as an advocate, board member and speaker. She has become a voice for those affected by violence and bullying. She has also become a champion for the elderly; who sometimes have trouble admitting they have been victimized. Doreen has written for several Philadelphia area newspapers. She is now a respected freelance journalist, content writer, ghostwriter and author. She works part-time as a caregiver for the elderly, most of whom are hospice patients. She is an active member of and also sits on the board of The Press Club, is a member of the Military Writers Society of America, the Nonfiction Authors Association, LB Creative Writers, Hot Pens, BC Speaker’s Bureau, and a workshop facilitator. She also owns a marketing company. The author lives in Delaware County, Pa. just south of Philadelphia with her husband John and two little dogs. Doreen and John have 5 grown children (2 more in heaven) and 13 grand children (their own little cult). Their lives are not boring.Instagram: doreenmcgettigan

Leanne

Wednesday 18th of May 2016

I love how positive all these were Doreen - letting them have this time of their lives without all the bossing and rules that we think are "good for them" - I'm going to try to remember this when dealing with my in-laws :)

Doreen McGettigan

Friday 20th of May 2016

Thank you Leanne and best of luck with your in-laws.

Cathy Lawdanski

Tuesday 10th of May 2016

This all hits so close to home, since I just lived through it. Important information. I will be sharing. Wish I would have listened more and "managed" less.

Doreen McGettigan

Wednesday 11th of May 2016

I am sorry you just went through it.. It is so stressful!

Sheryl Kraft

Tuesday 10th of May 2016

Such important advice to remember during such a stressful time - which can make being sensible so elusive.

Doreen McGettigan

Wednesday 11th of May 2016

Isn't that the truth!

Barbara Hammond

Tuesday 10th of May 2016

Great advice! I am so relieved we are finished with that time in our lives. It was difficult for about ten years. I hope my own kids are kind to us. b

Doreen McGettigan

Wednesday 11th of May 2016

3 of our 5 kids work with the elderly and tell us they have special rooms picked out for us already. Scary!

Joan stommen

Tuesday 10th of May 2016

Great Riis...you've nailed it, Doreen! I learned most of these with my Mom and again with my husband. Once I let go and started saying okay and taking time for myself...things became lighter and happier! Love your emphasis on the cake! Mom had to have dessert every day and sometimes more than one! Thank you for this important reminder to embrace each day as if their last and not to sweat the small stuff. Well done!

Doreen McGettigan

Wednesday 11th of May 2016

I had a relative that tried to deny a loved one the comforts of her beloved desserts when she was on Hospice. Seriously, what did it matter at that point.

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