You always knew this day would come, but you never imagined caring for your parents would be so overwhelming and time consuming. You feel split in half trying to attend to your own life needs and responsibilities, while still trying to be a caring, loving, child to your parent whom needs you more and more. Perhaps, they live independently or in an assisted living facility, you still feel guilt stricken and obligated to be there as much as possible for them.
Trying to maintain two households, your own and theirs’s. Having to balance two checkbooks, pay bills for two homes. Following up with doctor appointments, insurance needs, and other medical issues. Oh and don’t forget grocery shopping both for them and your own family.
Maybe you are trying to balance the stress of raising your own children or assisting with child care needs for your grandchildren while also being a care giver for your elderly parent. A parent who has become a stranger to you.
The once jolly woman you called your mother appears confused and angry most days. Her stubborn demeanor has left you feeling tired, resentful, and hurt. You try every day to not yell at her when she complains that you haven’t done something or she needs something right then and there.
Or maybe you still having hurtful feelings regarding the past with your parents. Perhaps the past hurt is impacting your ability to be present and engaged in their care. You may not have had the most ideal relationship with your parent and the idea of being responsible for their care may seem unfair.
You are exhausted!
Your work has become an obstacle in your world of responsibilities. Because at any moment the phone could ring and your mother or father may need something from you. Or you dread the call that something has happened to them in which you drop everything rushing to the hospital and recap the past few months. And the guilt sets in.
“How could I be so impatient with them? I should be grateful they are still here.”
“Why can’t it just be easier? No one understands how hard this really is!”
As the tears of grief roll down your face blurring your vision, your childhood self begins to just yearn for more time with your parent.
The pain of care giving for an aging parent is more complicated than the aggravation attached to the time consuming responsibilities. One becomes faced with so many issues you never even contemplated as being stressors in your life. Working with elder attorneys, estate lawyers, selling your childhood home in order to move your parent into a facility to get the care they require. Learning the system of Medicare and Medicaid.
In addition, to trying to communicate and help your parent adjust to these major life changes. Watching them resist and grieve the loss of their own independence. Helping them understand this is not you doing this to them, but you trying to help them get everything they need at this stage in life.
You become an advocate, a case manager, a personal shopper, and a sometimes a verbal punching bag. All while you are experiencing your own personal loss.
You are losing the parent you knew. That strong man that could do anything has transformed into a frail and fearful man sitting in a hospital bed. His eyes stare at you with despair. You’re heartbreaks to imagine how he feels inside.
You have become responsible for the woman that used to bake you cookies during a snow storm and put band aids on your boo-boo’s.
There is no band aid that can heal this pain you feel deep down inside.
This sadness, this emptiness, this heartache.
No child should have to experience this sense of loss alone.
Imagine being able to take care of yourself and still be available and effective in your parent’s care. Taking time for yourself guilt-free and worry-free. The ability to turn off the racing thoughts of what needs to be done next for them and focus on you. Attending to your household’s needs, feeling productive at work, and engaged with your own family. Imagine asking for help and support and getting it from others.
Setting limits to how much time you can spend at the assisted living facility on a weekly basis. Feeling comfortable with the thought that your parent’s needs are being met both physically and emotionally without draining yourself. Knowing that you have helped increase the quality of their life and have respected their own wishes while doing so.
Imagine enjoying your time visiting them. Still creating joyful and happy memories even on their last few days here. Laughing, smiling, and enjoying life.
How can you possibly fit counseling into your schedule when you have so much on my plate already?
Well, I’m going to tell you one cliché is very true.
You cannot care for others unless you care for yourself first!
Mindful Moments, LLC offers you the support and comfort you deserve during this time of need. Your clinician will offer you compassion, empathy, and the reassurance that you are doing the best you can with the circumstances you have.
In addition, we can assist you with some of the more complicated case management issues that arise in your situation offering possible referrals to support groups and professionals associated with elder care.
And as an added convenience we offer online counseling sessions for New Jersey residents. If time constraints are a real obstacle to your ability to implement self-care we can provide you with online sessions which may better fit your scheduling needs. (Please refer to our online counseling for details.)