They're our fiercest protectors, most loving and biased critics, strongest allies and if the gods of Olympus decide to really shine a little favor our way - they can be the best friends we'll ever have. All these descriptions and a plethora of others I don't have enough room to mention can be used to define devoted parents.
The faces you seek out in the crowd at your little league game. The voices you long to hear when you're homesick and in need of reassurance. The touch that has filled you with warmth and an unconditional sense of love and dedication your entire life.
Then one day far too soon for most of us to grasp, the roles change. We become the protector not the protected....the supplier not the supplied....the caregiver not the one being cared for.
In this journey called life if the circle makes it's completion without incident, you will eventually be faced with the challenge of caring for elderly parents. Don't take the word challenged lightly. It can be one of the most difficult tasks you've ever faced - but also one of the most rewarding.
The role of caregiver in these situations is usually a job that rests on the shoulders of one individual. Oh, sure....siblings will pledge help in many ways...money, time, assistance with decision making and emotional support. But as time passes the responsibility slowly drifts to that one person who has stepped up and assumed most of their parent's care - usually the adult child that has decided to move mom or dad into their home.
The elderly parent can also present a challenge. Realizing they've lost a certain level of their independence, the parent will often develop hostility and resentment toward the one in the direct line of fire - the primary caregiver. It's not personal. Just something I call a good ole fashioned "knee-jerk reaction" to a stressful period.
Managing and working through this type behavior takes patience, time and a strong support system.
As a nurse and daughter, I've served as a caregiver to the elderly at work and at home. During the 90s, my mother and I cared for my elderly grandmother and shortly after she passed away....we cared for my grandmother's mother. My great grandmother. Boy, was she a card.
Toward the end my great grandmother developed dementia. She would be that sweet strong woman I had known and loved all my life one minute; 5 minutes later, she was as foreign to me as a man from Mars. Those moments would inspire some of the funniest moments I've ever experienced and also some of the most heart wrenching, but somehow we got it done.
If you're currently caring for an elderly parent, there are a few things you can do to make sure you and your parent receive the best care possible.
• Have a strong support system - if you can't find this through other siblings, look for support groups. Talk with your parent's health care professional about options.
• Utilize In-Home Care services if available - Senior companions, Meals on Wheels, Meal Preparation, Sitters, etc
• Familiarize yourself with their medications - to be alert to adverse side effects, reactions or overdose
• Allow your parent to remain as independent as possible even though you are caring for them
• Take breaks - to avoid burnout treat yourself to some ME time
• Realize your limitations - if caring for your parent becomes too much for you to safely and effectively perform, look into alternatives such as assisted living facilities and/or residential nursing homes. This one can be a hard one. Many children feel as if they're giving up on their parent or "throwing them away" by placing them in these types of health care facilities. The only time you're throwing them away is if you don't carefully research the facility's reputation and make sure to visit frequently. I've worked in a few local nursing homes. And though I've never witnessed neglect or abuse....I can say the residents who had family members visiting on a regular basis often received more attentive care.
Just a few tips from me to you. Good luck on your journey and God Bless :)
Roschelle Nelson has been a Registered Nurse for 15 years. She's a fine story writer with her ability to capture emotions and pictures in words. Please visit Roschelle's blog. If you are a blogger, she offers tips that have helped my blog ranking a lot.
Thank you Roschelle!