When parents near the tender retirement age of sixty-seven, their bodies start to function at undesirable levels. In other words, they’ll need your help more than ever before.
Unfortunately, most parents have expectations way beyond what their kids can financially and physically provide. If you learn to handle their demands with tact, you can enjoy the badge of honor that comes with caring for your parents without being a pushover.
So read on to learn what you can do when aging parents expect too much.
Have an Honest Conversation
Find a comfortable setting where you can have an uninterrupted conversation. It’s important to create a safe space where people feel relaxed enough to share their thoughts.
Approach the interview with an open mind and genuine curiosity.Listen attentively to your parents’ desires without judgment.
When they’re done, be transparent about the impact caregiving may have on your life. Frame your thoughts and concerns using “I” statements to avoid sounding accusatory or confrontational. For example, say, “I feel overwhelmed when…” or “I’m worried that I won’t be able to meet these expectations because…”
Look for areas where you can find compromise. Focus on requests that you both have a stake in, such as ensuring your parents’ safety or quality of life. It’s easier to find solutions that are realistic and mutually beneficial when there’s common ground.
Also, let your aging parents know that your love and care for them remains unwavering, even if certain expectations can’t be met.
Assess Your Capacity
It’s completely normal to have limitations, and acknowledging them is an important step toward finding a balance between caring for your parents and taking care of yourself.
Reflect on your current commitments and obligations, such as work, family, and personal responsibilities. For instance, if you have children or a demanding job, being able to devote over ten hours to your elderly parents might not be realistic.
If your parents are asking for more time than you can offer, communicate this. It’ll help you both determine when help is available and avoid hurt feelings.
Also, reflect on your emotional availability and resilience. If you’re someone with anxiety or depression, for instance, it might be difficult to be empathetic and understanding when your parents are struggling. Likewise, if you’ve recently lost a loved one or suffered through any other kind of trauma, it’s important to consider whether you’re ready for this type of emotional work.
If this is the case, consider hiring in-home care or sending your parents to a senior living facility.
Aging parents may require assistance with daily activities, such as transportation, personal care, or household chores. Consider whether any of the tasks you’re assigned may be physically difficult for you or beyond your skills. If so, let your parents know in advance so that they can stop asking you to do it.
Set Financial Boundaries
Setting boundaries around financial matters maintains your monetary stability. Determine what you can reasonably contribute to your parents’ needs without jeopardizing your financial well-being.
Communicate openly with your parents about a specific monthly budget or the types of expenses you can’t cover. By setting these guidelines together, you can avoid potential disagreements or misunderstandings in the future.
One option is to suggest community resources that can help meet their needs. This might include local meal programs, transportation services, or even senior centers where they can engage with others and participate in activities they enjoy.
Volunteer programs are another great alternative. Many organizations rely on volunteers to help with tasks like yard work, house cleaning, or grocery shopping.
Support groups can also be a valuable resource. These can provide a forum for seniors to share their experiences and challenges with others who are going through similar journeys. They can also offer practical tips and advice for managing issues like medication, mobility, and family dynamics.
To care for aging parents with confidence, familiarize yourself with aging-related challenges. Learning about the physical, emotional, and cognitive changes of old age can provide valuable insights into how to support your parents effectively. Topics to explore may include:
- Common health conditions
- Caregiving strategies
- Communication techniques
- Legal considerations
Look for reputable websites, books, and articles that specialize in geriatric care.
Organizations such as the National Institute on Aging, AARP, and the Alzheimer’s Association offer professional guidance. These resources can suggest communities that offer the emotional support you need during this time.
Caring for aging parents is a labor of love, but it can also be physically and emotionally demanding. As the responsibilities pile up, it’s easy to forget about taking care of yourself. However, neglecting your own needs can lead to diminished well-being.
According to a study conducted by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, approximately forty percent of caregivers experience symptoms of burnout. Symptoms such as anger, hopelessness, and increased drug use were the most common.
If you want to avoid this, exercise, eat nutritious meals, and get enough sleep. It’ll give you the stamina you need to care for your aging parents.
Also, taking breaks during your caregiving periods can enhance mental clarity. Treat self-care as an indispensable appointment that you schedule for yourself. Whether it’s a relaxing bath, reading a good book, or enjoying a hobby, dedicate a few minutes to nourish your soul.
Yes, you’ll feel a little guilty, as caregivers have a hard time putting themselves first. When regretful feelings set in, please remember that self-care helps you nurture your loved ones better.
Best Responses When Aging Parents Expect Too Much
When aging parents expect too much, assess what you can provide and what you can’t. If their demands are beyond your strength or emotional readiness, seek outside help. An in-home nurse or help from other relatives will come in handy on this challenging journey. Remember, balancing your needs with your parent’s needs is possible with the right approach. You are not alone in this journey; our blog articles are here to offer encouragement and advice to help you navigate this complex situation. Read them whenever you need a boost.