Emotional Roller Coaster with Aging Parents

Help! Did I just go through a time warp to find my parents have all the sudden turned much older, seem weak mentally and physically, and are making bad decisions? When did this happen??

You’re not alone.  A psychology professor and Director of the Stanford University’s Center on Longevity speaks about how we struggle when watching and realizing our parent(s) are declining – mentally and physically – when for so much of our lives we have seen our parents as strong, healthy and powerful models we have learned from and followed.  Going from being our caregiver to now being the one needing care, the roles between parent and child are reversing, and it normally leads to much frustration, stress, anxiety and fear for both parents and adult children! 

Couple this with negative stereotypes about aging, and you can quickly see that these shifting roles definitely can challenge family dynamics.  Parents who don’t want to be told what to do, and yet need (and some even demand) help, are struggling with adult children who now worry about the demand on their own time and the need for their help to research options and figure out how to financially afford this next phase of life for their parent.

Siblings in many families tend to point fingers and push the burden of caregiver onto the one they deem least “busy”, or the one who has been “closest” to mom and dad during the past few years. Unfortunately the rivalry and competing interests of brothers and sisters turns into a whole new game of trying to run away from responsibility vs trying to gain a win for favorite..  The best scenarios out there typically are situations where the family as a whole find ways to share the load, and share the love for their parents but it takes alot of intentional effort on everyone’s parts.

As for the aging parents…  there are ways to find the silver lining or the flip side of the coin when you first are dealing with the fear or anxiety of realizing your parent is deteriorating before your eyes.  Instead of trying to avoid the inevitable, it’s better to find ways to help them embrace life with limitations, and find satisfactions on different levels.

There are great persepctives in this link below, such as: “Acceptance can be the goal, though watching a parent age can be challenging not only because of what’s happening to the parent but also because of what the child knows will happen to them, too.  “It scares us,” Castel said. “We think, ‘That could be me one day. And in fact, if everything goes well, that will be me one day.’ One thing to say to yourself is, ‘How do I want my child to treat me?'”

You’re not alone if you are feeling Frustration within Caregiving for Aging Parents

If you have recommendations or advice to share with us at AgingTopic, feel free to send us a note to [email protected].  If you have questions about resources or if you want us to post a blog about specific areas of aging, we welcome the feedback and will do our best to follow through.