Guest Author - Lisa Polovin Pinkus
You are a mom. You are responsible for taking care of your children. You are a daughter. You are responsible for taking care of your parents. It is a difficult role that more and more women find themselves in. Though raising a child is hard work, caring for your parents may be even more difficult.
How do you continue to honor your loved one when they are constantly grumpy and yell at you in every conversation? How do you remain connected to your parents when they are experiencing dementia? How do you serve as an advocate and a support as you enter these uncharted territories?
Much like parenting, you do your best gather as much information as you can and make the best decision for the one you are caring for at that moment.
Communication is essential between family members. Its important to talk before your parents reach the age or the health of needing to be cared for. Prepare now so that you can avoid doing crisis management in the future. Ensure that you are aware of their needs and wishes in regards to their care.
Keep the purpose in mind. Caring for your aging parents can be frustrating at times. Continue to recall the reason you are caring for them. Are you assisting them in maintaining their dignity? Are you giving back for all the years they cared for you? Do you merely wish to provide comfort and love in their last days?
Maintain a sense of self. Again, as with parenting, it is easy to lose sight of yourself while caring for another. Do not forget to take the time to give to yourSelf and to care for yourSelf. Think twice before leaving a job to care for your parents. Do not allow the care to consume all of your time and energy. Carve out pieces of time, space, and nurturing just for you.
Open to the lessons. As you care for your parents, you may discover some things you want and or dont want as you age. Open the lines of communication with your own children. Allow them to observe the process as you care for your parents and speak to them about what you desire when you might require care. Look at the experience as a learning opportunity both in terms of your own growth and of your needs as you begin to age.
Have an emotional outlet. Humor is essential when caring for an aging parent. The relationship you once had with your parent transforms and some of the things like support you are accustomed to receiving from your parent may not be present anymore. When the difficult moments suck your energy, patience, or hope it is important to seek additional support and/or to laugh with others.
Layer upon layer of emotion may be revealed when you a mom are caring for your parent. I have covered only the tip of the iceberg. Caring for children and for a parent can pull you in opposite directions, stretch your limits, and raise serious life questions. It is important to care for yourself as diligently as you care for your children and your parents.