As a caregiver do you ever find yourself getting angry at your elderly parents? Do you lose patience? Feel frustrated? You are not alone! You have a lot of company! The stress and frustration of caregiving can make it difficult to cope with daily challenges or to view any situation objectively.
As children we are all taught to honor and respect our parents. No one wants to admit to feeling angry at a parent for seemingly petty issues. It is impossible for you to understand why you react with negative emotions. These are feelings that you find difficult to share with anyone. You judge yourself, viewing these as unacceptable feelings.
This is a time that you have to do things for your parents. Therefore, many of your hopes and dreams may have to be postponed to provide necessary care.
SOME OF THE MANY INTERESTS YOU WANTED TO PURSUE MAY INCLUDE:
- Taking long awaited trips
- Enrolling in a course: photography, art, etc.
- Visiting grandchildren who live at a distance
- Learning to play golf, bridge, etc.
- Catching up on reading
These are just a few wishes that had to be postponed. Then one evening just when you are about to meet friends for dinner you get an emergency phone call. You have to get in your car and drive two hours to take care of your mother who just had an anxiety attack.
You have theater tickets to celebrate your anniversary and because your father just "fired" his new health aide you have to go to his apartment to make sure he is safe.
Your mother appears to be very needy and she may no longer be able to perform daily tasks. You go for your weekly visit for lunch and each time you arrive you are expected to do the cooking. Mom no longer seems able to prepare lunch. You react with feelings of anger.
It seems that everything in your life including conversations is focused around caring for your elderly parent. It is not difficult to understand that these issues would make you feel angry and resentful.
THINGS ARE NO LONGER AS THEY ONCE WERE. PARENTS CAN'T DO OR GIVE AS THEY USED TO.
- Mother can no longer manage to have the family come for holidays or celebrations.
- Dad is forgetting to pay bills and is not able to balance his checkbook
- You are not able to count on your parent for support or to be there in emergencies
- Your mother no longer asks about the grandchildren
- Your father, who always took pride in his appearance has stains on his clothes
- Mom and dad can no longer drive. Errands and appointments need to be scheduled and not always at your convenience
Your parents can no longer do or be the parents you knew and loved. They are no longer behaving as your parents. And just when you have time to enjoy your life, they are taking up every spare minute.
HERE ARE JUST A FEW WAYS TO BEGIN TO ALLEVIATE SOME OF THE ANGER AND FRUSTRATIONS
- Acceptance - it is difficult when things have changed and seem out of control. It is easier to accept the changes rather than to fight them. Your parent is now dependent on you. Both the roles and rules have changed. Embracing the change will decrease your anger..
- Take care of yourself - if you don't it will not benefit either of you. Take a walk. Meet with friends. Read a book. Schedule "me" time as if you are making a necessary doctor's appointment.
- Expect their anger - it is very difficult for a parent to give up the role that defined them. Now they feel they are not in control of their lives. It is not any easier for them to accept the change.
- Empowerment - give them options. Help them to feel that they are still running their lives.
- Ask their advice - while they may need you for support, ask them for their advice about things in both your lives. .
- Depend on others - ask your spouse or your siblings for support. Don't go on this journey alone.
- Slow things down - this is new territory. You are both learning new ways to do things. Let things evolve gradually. Count to 10 when you feel you are going to lose your temper and say something you will regret.
If you are so overwhelmed that you can't cope and your anger takes over, this may be the time to seek help. Again, you don't have to be alone in this journey. As a therapist, working with the older population I have been able to successfully guide adult children through this unchartered territory. Please call for a free phone consultation to further discuss your concerns. Or email me through the link on my contact page.