The Transition from Child to Caretaker: 4 helpful ideas

From the time you were born, your parents took care of you. They fed you, provided a roof over your head, helped you up when you were down, and wiped your tears and worries away. Eventually, you became a successful adult, able to care for yourself.

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But, now your parents are older—and your roles soon have to be reversed. It's this transition of power that makes it hard for adult children and seniors to find a happy medium in caregiving. You are both used to your parents being the strong, healthy, ableminded ones, the people in control.

While each child should make a decision on whether to hire additional help, admit their parent to a nursing home, or take on the responsibility alone or with siblings, the elderly parent’s specific health conditions are an important factor. It is easy to sweep it under the rug when your mother says her dizziness is nothing to worry about. However, to keep your elderly parent healthy and happy for as long as possible, you need to communicate. Most parents will resist your help, at least at first. This is a delicate moment; giving up any amount of independence is tough. Remember to carefully find a balance between the respect your parents deserve and the supervision they need.

Here are some tips on how to keep your parents safe without taking away their autonomy.

1. Validate
Tell your parents that you understand that they do not want to overburden you with their care. Also, be patient with them. They may tell you over and over you have nothing to worry about. Show them your appreciation, but gently let them know that you want to help. Don’t push it, and give them time to come to terms with the idea.
2. Be Honest
This one is tough for children. Ask yourself if the help you are providing is genuine. Do they need more assistance from a professional—or less assistance altogether? Are you letting them do everything they can on their own? Is your "help" actually a burden?
3. Identify
Work with your parents to find areas where you can help (and where they feel comfortable with your help). This could be driving your loved to appointments or cooking them dinner a few nights a week.
4. Delegate
If distance and time don’t allow you to physically help, don’t beat yourself up over it. Hire someone to clean your parent's home. Seek the help of a professional caregiver who can assist them with daily activities. Hire seasonal help to shovel snow and tend to the yard. There are plenty of ways to help without being
physically there

Guest post by Gary Simmons of A Hand to Hold.