Growing up, your parents set boundaries and rules. Now that they’re older, you find yourself reversing roles with them. You now are setting boundaries and laying down rules, and it doesn’t always go over well. You’re tired of the arguments and frustration. How do you handle role reversals when you’re a family caregiver?
Be Patient and Kind
You need to be kind when you’re helping your parents. Don’t criticize if they do things slowly. Remember they’ve been doing things their way for decades. Changing to match your preferred method isn’t going to be easy. If you criticize, it’s going to hurt them the same way it would have hurt you as a child.
You also need to be very patient. Your parents may move more slowly than you do. Rushing them isn’t going to help.
Lead by Example
Help them get things done by following your example. If you know a way that can make a task easier or pass more quickly, show them, and let them follow the steps you take. Don’t expect them to master it immediately. It may take days or weeks of trying it your way before they master it. Embrace a Flexible Attitude
Laugh About It
Take time to laugh. While it may be frustrating or even sad seeing how much your parents can’t do on their own, laugh some things off. It will ease tension. If your dad dribbles his soup down his shirt, don’t let him get upset. Laugh it off as a trivial matter that is easily resolved with a quick pre-treatment and change of his shift.
Goof Off Every Now and Then
When you were a kid, your parents likely let you blow off steam now and then. You probably went to the beach to swim, splash, and build sandcastles. You may have been taken to the zoo to explore nature. You went to the carnival to ride the rides, eat foods, and play games.
Do the same for your parents. Instead of focusing on tasks all of the time, take a day from time to time to take a break and have fun. Take your parents to a museum, go to a nature preserve to watch birds, or go to a botanical garden and enjoy the scents of all the flowers.
Take Frequent Breaks
Take breaks as often as you need. If you find yourself mentally and physically exhausted by Thursday, hire elderly care aides to help you during the week. While they help out, do something you enjoy that refreshes your mindset. Go for a drive, call a friend, bake bread, or work in your gardens.
Talk to an elderly care agency about respite care. You need to take those breaks to avoid caregiver stress and burnout.