Role reversal - parenting the parent, an emotional time for both the adult child and the parent says "A Place for Mom". Parents feel embarrassed and frustrated as they find they cannot do things for themselves; adult children show a sense of loss watching their mom or dad deteriorate.
"Clearly, the role reversal that comes with with aging and caregiving strains the parent-child relationship and puts it on difficult and unfamiliar turf. Because the relationship between you and your parent has changed dramatically, you may need to explore new ways of expressing love and receiving love that are appropriate to you and your parent’s current position and transformed roles."
(picture from A Place for Mom) The website cites a book by psychologist Dr. Gary Chapman written in 1995, 'The Five Languages of Love'. There is something he calls the 'Love Language' that each person has - a way of giving and showing love. He says with relationships changing you may need to find new ways to show love to your parents. He asks adult children to think back to their childhood to see how their parents expressed love to them, to see how to express that love back. I wish I thought about this more when mom was around - I would get so caught up in all the day-to-day stuff with her situation and my own family and what they needed, I'm sure I could have showed her more love than I did. Although I knew she knew I loved her by the way she talked to other people about what I was doing for her, I could have 'said' more to her about how I felt rather than assuming she knew BECAUSE I was doing what I was doing.
Back to Dr. Chapman and his theory:
1) Words of Affirmation - some elderly parents need to constantly hear "I love you". So spread compliments and 'I love you' when you can, 'words of approval and affirmation'.
2) Quality time - spend some time when they can have your undivided attention, turn off phones, pagers TVs. Spend some time going to lunch or dinner, go shopping, or just sit and talk.
3) Giving and Receiving Gifts - he is not talking about accumulating 'things' but sharing things - sending articles that someone might be interested in, sending flowers, making sure you remember a birthday or anniversary or just because. Mom would sometimes get excited if I found something she used all the time on sale and bought her a few of them!!
4) Acts of Service - this is from the parent who used to do things around the house or favors for people. We all know caregiving is an act of service but maybe a spouse can fix something around the house or yard, change the oil in a car, mow the lawn.
5) Physical touch - maybe mom or dad was a hugger. Hug or hold hands, walk arm-in-arm. Again, something else I should have done more of.
Think back and see how your parents acted and maybe by acting accordingly, it might help your changing relationship. I know the times we did share a hug, it was like a physical release, a slowing down of what we were doing, a "it's all going to be Ok" (even though things were going downhill). Even at the end (mom was not talking, eyes closed - like a coma state), before leaving the nursing home, I would give her a kiss, say 'I love you. It will all be Ok if you want to go'. Her body and face would relax a little. I think it was her way of saying back 'thank you, love you too'.
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4 Signs of Caregiving Stress Overload
ElderCarelink email posts 4 signs that should not be overlooked by you, the caregiver, or a close family member or friend. They report that even though the immediate caregiver may not be helping in direct care, the mind is never far from the needs of the older person, thinking about meals, falling, medications. Take the opinion of a family member or friend if they are telling you that you are stressed. Four signs: you skip your own physicals; you isolate yourself from others; you eat and/or drink too much for good health; you are short tempered with the elder, your spouse or your children. If any or all of these sound familiar, take a break no matter how short in order to recharge. For more information on caregiver stress see ElderCarelink
You can check out my ranting and stream of consciousness writing about looking at adult service providers with Will.
A Caregiver's Poem
I was looking through a 'Caregiver's Blog: Senior Care Support' and came across a poem that was shared by a writer, Dana, from the blog. The poem was written by Becky Netherland and Dana's grandmother shared it with her. I thought it was great and there is not much to say about it - just read!!! Enjoy!!
(picture from Caregivers Blog)
I’ve traveled paths you’ve yet to walk
Learned lessons old and new
And now this wisdom of my life
I’m blessed to share with you
Let kindness spread like sunshine
Embrace those who are sad
Respect their dignity, give them joy
And leave them feeling glad
Forgive those who might hurt you
And though you have your pride
Listen closely to their viewpoint
Try to see the other side
Walk softly when you’re angry
Try not to take offense
Invoke your sense of humor
Laughter’s power is immense!
Express what you are feeling
Your beliefs you should uphold
Don’t shy away from what is right
Be courageous and be bold
Keep hope right in your pocket
It will guide you day by day
Take it out when it is needed
When it’s near, you’ll find a way
Remember friends and family
Of which you are a precious part
Love deeply and love truly
Give freely from your heart
The world is far from perfect
There’s conflict and there’s strife
But you still can make a difference
By how you live your life
And so I’m very blessed to know
The wonders you will do
Because you are my granddaughter
And I believe in you.
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