Hopefully you enjoyed the series about living longer we presented last week. It’s important that we caregivers stay as healthy as possible. This week we are going to return to the topic of care giving and how to cope with the stress. Those of us who are caregivers of aging parents know what most people don’t – care giving is a most stressful job!
In fact, it’s more than an understatement that being a caregiver for an elderly loved one is stressful. After all, most of us never planned on being a caregiver to our aging parents in the first place. I know it certainly was never in my job description. But all too often that’s where we find ourselves.
Stress on the job
Unfortunately, we are neither trained nor prepared for the sometimes daunting tasks that lie before us. As our parents grow older, they often become hostile and resistant to the changes that are necessary for their care. Sometimes they are downright disagreeable when the caregiver – even their own son or daughter – must implement those changes. What does that do to the caregiver? Increase the anxiety in an already stressful situation.
One of the biggest challenges in caring for aging parents is that the roles are reversed. We’ve been primed since the beginning to honor and respect our parents, to listen to what they say and act accordingly. Now that we are the caregiver and the roles reversed, it is very difficult for the parent to then become like a child and become the one who must obey. I understand that conundrum – I really do. But, that doesn’t mean that we take a backseat to our elderly parent, especially when they are struggling with memory or behavioral issues and inappropriately acting out.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to understand that as you move into place as the primary caregiver for your elderly parents, the stress in your life is going to increase. You may as well face that reality right up front. As most of us know by now, stress is one of the biggest causes of physical and mental health problems in adults. Although some stress in our lives is expected, what can sometimes overwhelm us is when we are caring for a family member.
Dealing with stress
The bottom line in dealing with the most stressful job of care giving is to understand that you are the one that must deal with it. You are the front line in this situation. Depending on the situation, your parent may not be able to help you deal with the stress because they are the ones causing it in the first place. You are not only taking care of your aging parent, but you must also take care of yourself as well.
Hopefully our series of articles this week will help you understand the stress of care giving and how you can better handle the stress. One thing that is helpful to know is that your time as a caregiver is finite. It will end and life will go on for you. In the meantime, you must do the best you can to maintain your health in every area so that you can successfully go on after the stressful job of caring for your loved ones comes to an end.