I have a few friends who are now entering a new phase of adulthood which is when you are now charged with parenting your own parents or elderly family members. It happens to many of us as we reach middle age. My friends are just at the beginnings of that journey and I am glad to be here to help them and to help anyone else who needs it. Because, I know how hard it is to watch the changes that occur as our parents get older. Sometimes it starts sneakily and at others, it feels as if the drastic changes happen overnight. But not matter how it happens, it’s hard for all involved.
The reversal of roles from child to parenting our parents can be a rocky road to navigate. Some parents have a tough time relinquishing control to their children and fight the aging process with acute belligerence. I can imagine how hard it is to realize even a little bit that we aren’t as ‘with it’ as we once were, that we get confused at times and that our children are telling us what to do when that was our job. It’s a slippery slope to navigate as a child who now needs to parent our own parents. We must be patient as the changes occur and be kind, even when our best intended and even wise suggestions are met with disapproval.
It’s hard to realize that our parents aren’t as healthy, mentally and physically as they once were and that we cannot rely upon them as children anymore. It’s a tough realization, but very necessary. There’s a mourning that comes with that realization for ourselves and our parents if they can realize it. Bumps in the road are certain as this next phase begins.
Perhaps you’re realizing that your parents are weakening mentally and physically. They aren’t as spry as they used to be and need help walking or doing their normal routines. Perhaps you’re noticing that they are getting a bit confused at times or forgetting what they once readily knew. Or perhaps they are slurring their words a bit or not able to remember to pay the bills on time or to take out the garbage or to eat routinely.
Please, come from a place of love and kindness as you navigate this new phase. Be helpful and try to keep your frustrations outwardly to a minimum. Hold your parents closer than you may have in the past and give them love. Let them know you are there to be helpful and not to take over entirely (unless it’s now truly needed). Find ways in which to help them as these beginning stages unfold. Keep a keen eye on things as it progresses and be aware that subtle changes can grow quickly into full on tragedy if not monitored.
I am not trying to scare you, but I need to warn you. I have seen it happen. Trauma can exacerbate the the changes more quickly and speed up the need to get more help for your parents.
You may even see personality changes occur as they decline mentally and physically. Agitation is common as their frustration levels increase (and yours do too). It’s normal, so please take care of yourself and them with kindness and patience in your heart, mind and actions.
I’m here if you need a friend. I’ve been on this path for quite a long time with several family members. It’s not easy, but when you understand that you are not alone on this journey, it helps to ease the pain. Being supported by someone who’s been there helps and I would like to give back in honor of those who helped me through the journey, so I’m here for you.