Guest Blog: Caring for Your Parents – Early Advice
First off remember, they are still your parents, they haven’t changed, they still love you as they did when you were born, they still care for you and remember you growing up but they can’t always let you know in the same way and now the goal post has moved – you are caring for them. It becomes a different and often difficult relationship. Their generation has never needed help, would never dream of asking for help and ‘accepting’ help, so you have trouble on your hands.
As a son or daughter, you may feel that you have the ‘right’ to make caring decisions for your parents but remember, yes they are your parents but they are also individuals with their own choices, wants and needs and as you grew up and naturally away from them, your own individual choices, wants and needs may now not align.
As I mentioned, our parents’ generation does not want help, however, our generation is constantly looking for help, cleaners, pet walkers, au pairs so it is much more acceptable for us and our children’s generation to expect help – but that’s another topic! So, go slowly, don’t tell your parents what they need or what you are going to do for them, don’t remind them that they need help but find ways to suggest or encourage, it may be a slight nudge such as ‘the garden is getting a bit overgrown dad, there is an excellent gardener who does our garden, he’s fantastic, will come regularly and then you and mum can just admire it – it’s a great place to sit in the summer – I’ll get some information for you if you like’.
It is always hard to admit that you need help whatever age you are and more so to admit it to your children – so listen to what they say, not what you think they are saying, the help you think they need might be all very good but it is not the help that they want. For instance, you think mum should have some help daily with dad, but that would be taking everything away from her. She loves him through sickness and health and will care for him to the end of time – so don’t take everything away from her but offer her an option of a little bit, now and again. I guarantee that after a short period of time, mum will thank you and will be booking more visits and being less stressed – I see it all the time with clients of mine.
Another thing to remember and remind parents who are against outside help is that they are paying for this, it might be funded or it might be a volunteer but either they are paying someone direct or their taxes have at some time paid towards others having it – it’s their turn to get something back so relax and enjoy it. It also helps no end to find the right home care company, as the carer or Personal Assistant (PA) can be the making or breaking of getting your parents to agree to continued support, so look around, talk to the companies involved and ask them how they work and how they deal with people who say they don’t want support. If possible, meet the carer or PA and let them know something positive about your parents, don’t burden them with their life history, let them find that out if your parents want to tell them – and smile. It is possible and happens many many times that carers will become friends to both you and your parents and will no longer be seen as someone bought in to care – it will take time but have patience.
Discussions about care homes can be a lot harder to deal with, but again, remember that your parents do have a choice unless they are deemed to not have the capacity to make a decision. There is help out there for you – use it – your Local Authority should help in any early discussions and if not organisations such as Age Concern or Age UK can supply invaluable support or point you in the right direction. But hopefully, this is all in the future and at the moment the feeling is they need a little support to stay independent. Remember, be patient with them, don’t tell them what you think they need, ask them what could help them and make positive open suggestions.
To reiterate, remember they are still your parents, they haven’t changed, they still love you as they did when you were born, they still care for you and remember you growing up but they can’t always let you know in the same way, but they do love you and are thankful for your care and support.