Being there for aging parents looks different for everyone. Every loved one has different needs. And, every caregiver supports differently––usually due to time constraints, proximity and abilities.
There typically is a common theme in every caregiver’s experience––balance.
Some questions that might come up for you around balance and caring for your loved one include:
How do I live my own life and manage my caregiving responsibilities?
How do I balance providing care while not hovering and interfering in my loved one’s life too much?
How do I boost confidence and encourage my loved one’s independence while also ensuring their safety?
How much support does my loved one want and need?
How easy is it to provide what my loved one needs?
Do you identify with any of these thoughts?
I recently learned more about the topic of balance when being a caregiver for my mom and now my mother-in-law. Based on my experience, I’d like to share some thoughts with you about how to best support your loved one while balancing your own life.
An important part of this balancing act we do as caregivers is having dignity and respect for our loved ones. Some questions to ask yourself include:
How can I support while not overstepping?
What are my loved ones’ wishes?
How can I respect my loved one and help while considering the wishes of other family members?
These are all difficult questions. And, the answers even more so.
What my experiences have taught me is each decision has to be a compromise. And, the priorities have to be determined for each one.
One thing that I have found helpful is use my loved one’s best interests as a guide.
It seems obvious right? Not always, though. When a loved one pushes back on decisions about their safety––the stove, the clutter, the car, to name a few––it’s our job to not compromise but do the difficult and painful thing. It’s a boundary to keep them safe.
It requires restraint on the part of the caregiver to allow the loved one to live as they choose as long as they are not in harm’s way.
It’s important to consider your tone and language when delivering important messages. To be gentle. Respectful. Explain your reasoning while not providing too much information. Again… balance.
In the case of my mother-in-law, we’re struggling to get her on board to move to an assisted living community. Her doctors tell her and us that getting regular social interaction with peers is the number one thing for her health and well-being. But she doesn’t want to move. Do we literally pull the rug from under her and force it to happen or allow her to decline alone? There is no right answer.
I guess that’s the point here. There is no right answer. Take each decision as it comes and do your very best to keep your loved one’s best interests at heart while setting boundaries to keep them safe––emotionally and physically.
You got this!
Guest Blogger Kelly Martin