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The Unexpected Emotion in Caring for Elderly Parents


Family caregiver comforting senior loved one
Learn how to manage anger when caring for elderly parents.

If you were to list the top five emotions you encounter in caring for elderly parents, what would they be? Maybe you’d first think of emotions like compassion, love, and sometimes, even stress or frustration. Would anger make the list? In a number of cases, though family members would not wish to disclose it, the answer is a resounding YES.


The truth is that a large number of adult children grapple with the fact that their parents are getting older. Growing up, our parents might have exuded health, strength, and control, giving us an underlying impression that they would always be there for us. Observing a decline in their health shatters that notion, which could leave us feeling disillusioned, let down, fearful, anxious, and yes – angry.


As the tables turn and aging parents become the ones in need of care, family dynamics may become complicated. And the negative stereotype within our culture towards aging tells us that getting older is something we have to deny or resist – something which can have an impact on how both adult children and their aging parents handle age-related decline.


Add to that the increased stress experienced by individuals who are part of the sandwich generation – taking care of children at home and aging parents simultaneously. Approximately one out of three adults with senior parents believe their parents require some amount of care in addition to emotional support.


So, how might you transition to a more favorable mindset? The first step is arriving at a place of acceptance. Laura Cartensen, Stanford University psychology professor and director of the Center on Longevity, explains, “The issue is less about avoiding the inevitable and more about living satisfying lives with limitations. Accepting aging and mortality can be liberating.”


Open, honest communication is also crucial. Family members and their parents should express their thoughts about what is working well in the relationship, and what needs to be improved. In some cases just learning the other person’s perspective makes all the difference. For instance, a senior parent may voice irritation with being prompted to wear his or her glasses. A recommended response may be to explain the reason behind the reminders – because of a fear that the parent may fall, for example. A compromise can then be reached.


Concentrating on the high quality time your caregiving role gives you with your aging parents, while handling your parents’ needs with your own, is key. One of the best ways to achieve this is by choosing a trusted care partner to help. Contact The Care Company, the leading providers of senior home care in Toronto and nearby areas, at (416) 422-2273 for additional information.


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