Role reversal : When the child becomes the “parent”

by Angie on

Time flies and without you realizing it, you are now an adult working and building your young family. Everything is going on well and in your equation of life, your parents will live long and healthy. They will never be a bother in your life. In their golden years, they will be traveling the world and living the comfortable retired life.

You wake up from your idealist world and stare into reality. There sit your parents who can hardly help themselves or remember their own name, reality hits you. The role has reversed. You are now the “parent” (caregiver) and your parent, the “child”.Papa and amma

Being a caregiver

This is something that no one ever prepares you for. There are numerous amounts of books, websites, free advise from friends and family on how to take care of a child/toddler but hardly any for an elderly person. It is something that no one thinks about until it hits you. The initial shock, adjustment period in being a caregiver requires a lot of patience and sacrifice in your part. Your entire life changes in that one instant.

Preparation, preparation, preparation…

Being a caregiver to the elderly requires preparation, much like preparing oneself to be a parent. Research and preparation of the home and the parent’s room should be done immediately to keep your loved one comfortable. This also depends on the severity of their condition; being bed-ridden, with Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimers, etc.

As a caregiver, you need to devote time for both yourself as well as your ‘kids’. Therefore, it is essential to make a timetable to take care of the elderly if they are at home and if possible, also get your family members. involved. This timetable basically includes timings of the medications and the meals to be given. Most essentially because the elderly need to be given small portions of meal as frequently as 6 times a day to meet their nutritional requirements. Salt and sugar intake has to be under control at all times.

Have some “me” time

It is essential for a caregiver to set some personal time. This is very important as the physical and mental stress from caring for your elderly, will drain you of any energy left in you. Take time for breathe – go out for a walk, do yoga or just simple meditation techniques to calm yourself down.

Support is essential

Get involved with a support group of caregivers. This will be an avenue to share and open up about your challenges with other caregivers within the group. The support from the group is important to maintain your sanity and give you the moral support to continue being a caregiver.

Caring for your elderly really is a daunting task and not to be taken lightly. Unlike a toddler, there are no cute factors here to ease the process. It is a challenge both psychologically and physically. Don’t be afraid, there are avenues out there to assist you.

Written by: Angie

10 Comments

Gin

Thanks for this lovely post. I’m sure everyone is nervous about whether we’ll be ready when the time comes to take care of our parents. The committment, the stress, and I’ve seen friends who get very depressed when their parents fall ill and they have to take charge of every little matter in the household. Sometimes they’d just be on tiptoe wondering if their parents are alright and blaming themselves for being busy with work and unable to spend time to take care of their parents 24/7. Thanks for sharing this, I’m sure many will find it helpful as the time comes for them to be the “parents”.

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Angeline Joseph

Hi Gin. Thank you for reading my post.Yes, what you have said is so true. It is a difficult process which no one is really ready for. I hope that what I have shared will give hope and strength in knowing that they are not alone in this.

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Jeremias Cruz

Hello!

I really like your article. As Behavioral Specialist who works with teenagers with disabilities I can totally relate to this. Being a caregiver can be daunting and in some cases stressful, depending on the client. but at the same time it also has a rewarding aspect in being a provider because for me, I can see them progress in all aspects of their ability. I started out as a caregiver with no experience and as you mentioned that there’s literally nothing can prepare you for this. Great Website

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Angie

Hi Jeremias! Thank you so much.
Wow! A Behavioral Specialist. I truly admire your patience and passion. 🙂
I would really love to hear more of your experiences and challenges.
Yes, being a caregiver is not easy and it is important for those out there to know that they are not alone.

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Tony

Hi Angie,
Excellent post highlighting the challenges of caring for the elderly. I have not experienced it, but I know that having to care for your parents must be tough.

You are right – as we grow older, we do not grow any cuter. Caring for your children just seems natural. Caring for your parents in the latter stages of life, although necessary and we would do it because it is the right thing to do, seems a little less natural.

Thank you for sharing your experiences. They will help so many!

Tony

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Angie

Hi Tony,

Thank you for your support. I really appreciate it. 🙂

Yes, you are right. It is less natural. When they say “living a second childhood” , they really do ( with tantrums and the works! ) 🙂

What makes it difficult at times is seeing them deteriorate and becoming dependent on you especially if they are physically challenged. You have an image of them as your able parent still in your mind and seeing them in a different light takes a whole new angle psychologically. It is frustrating and can be depressing for us as their child and caregivers. Not an easy task at all!

I hope that I am able to reach out to caregivers out there and also create an awareness about caring for the elderly via my sharing.

Angie

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Melisse

It’s helpful when people as yourself blog about these issues so people can come to this time of life a little more prepared. My parents are in their mid-seventies and my kids range in age from 10 -15. So I will soon join the “sandwich generation” of people who have both parents and children to take care of at the same time. My parents are realistic about the fact that they might need help soon, so they are also making plans that I hope will help when the time comes.

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Angie

Thank you so much for your kind words. That’s the intention of this blog – to assist and prepare the caregiver for the days to come. I am happy to hear that your parents are preparing themselves for the future. If there are any questions, please feel free to contact me. I would be happy to assist the best way that I can.

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Cathy

Hey there Angie, I can so relate to your situation. I am the youngest of two siblings and since my brother has moved out, I am now the ‘person-in-charge’ in the family.

It all started after I graduated and earned my first salary. That was when a portion is used to support the household expenses. Eventually both my parents retired and began to develop health issues and guess what – they don’t have any medical insurance.

I feel obliged to help them and although things are fairly manageable right now, I do wish at times that I have more money to do better things for them. I guess the good outcome from this is that I am learning to save for my retirement at a very early age so that I don’t have to burden my children when I am old and grey.

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Angie

Hugs Cathy. It is tough and indeed an eye opener. Same here, my parents didn’t have medical insurance. Financially,it can be hell sometimes. I am happy that you are managing everything very well.

You are doing the best that you can for them and that is all that they can ever ask for. 🙂

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