Role Reversal - You and Your Elderly Parent

Role Reversal - You and Your Elderly Parent

As we grow older, it's natural to think back to our childhood, to a time when our parents took care of us. Now, as an adult, you may find yourself providing temporary, moderate or severe care for your aging parent. Is this a true role reversal, and are you really parenting your parent?

You will never stop it being your parent's child, and each parent-child relationship is different. Some parents and their adult children get along very well, while others don't.

Expectations, lifestyle, work and other family responsibilities as well as location play a large role in how adult children take care of their elderly parents.

One thing is for certain - as much benefit, reward, and passion you get out of taking care of a needy or frail parent, you're like lever to run into several challenges, aggravations, and at times, frustration and anger.

Understanding what's involved in caring for a parent means understanding more deeply the relationship between parents and their children as well as their obligations and responsibilities.

role reversal elderly care

While you may not be able to physically care for your parent due to a number of circumstances or factors, there are things that you can do to foster independence, enhance the quality of life of your parent, and create even stronger patent-child bonds than ever before.

Role Reversal - Tips for Parent Caregivers

Just because your parent may require emotional or physical support during their later stages of life doesn't mean that you treat them like children. Your parent will always be your parent, and you their child. It's important for adult caregivers to remember certain things when taking care of their elderly loved ones:

  • Treat your parents or other elders with respect. However, you can manage it; let your parent or your elderly loved one know that they do have some control over their lives. Losing the respect of children and other loved ones due to weakness, handicap, or disease can be devastating to the elderly and affects more than their physical health.
  • Keep your parent involved in financial or health care decisions - even if your parent can't take care of such issues on their own; involve them in the process as long and as often as possible. Do your best to respect their wishes in regard to their finances and health care, and involve them in any important decision making processes such as home health care, long-term nursing care, powers of attorney documents, and end-of-life wishes.
  • Offer reassurance - regardless of your parent's physical, mental and emotional state, always attempt communication. Take the initiative and assume that your parent can understand you, and take the time to explain what's happening, and reassure Mom or Dad that you're doing what you can to abide by their wishes.
  • Avoid talking or treating your parents like children - don't boss your parents around, nag them about their habits or tell them how they should behave. Your parent is an adult and has experienced life. Certain medical conditions such as dementia as well as some medications may alter your parent's personality or attitude, but do your best not to treat them like a child who doesn't know any better.
  • Avoid discussing your parent with another person in the room - treating someone as if they're not there or can't hear or understand you is not the best way to preserve your parent's dignity.
  • Put yourself in their shoes - remember that it as an adult caring for an elderly parent, you may also find yourself in the same position as your parent someday. Stop and reflect on how you would like to be treated, regardless of physical or mental limitations.

Always remember with role reversal that your parent has gone through life, experienced a variety of emotions, and may even have struggled and suffered.

Your parent may be frightened to be losing some or most of their independence, and most are very hesitant to rely on loved ones or the charity of others for their well-being.

Most of all, remember that your parent is a human being that deserves to be treated with respect, compassion, and dignity, regardless of their circumstances.

Talking with Mom and Dad


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