Its hard to watch your parents go from healthy active adults to frail seniors. Sometimes this can happen gradually, you may not notice that your dad was hiking and doing his own home repairs and now he seems to struggle with simple tasks or it can happen very suddenly as the result of a heart attack, stroke, injury, or other illness.
Generally, people are living longer and healthier lives. However, most people seem to reach an age where they can’t live completely on their own without some type of support. That support may come directly from their children or other family members, or in a more formal setting such as in-home care or senior’s residences with various levels of care provided.
There is much to consider and process when your parents are depending on you for their health care, or to make important decisions on their behalf.
Symptoms & signs of stress caused from dealing with aging parents
- Extended family conflict:
- Perhaps you and your siblings have different ideas about what’s best for mom and dad, or it could be that not all siblings are pitching in and leaving you to take on more than your share of the work and worry.
- Nuclear family conflict:
- The stress of dealing with ill or aging parents can put a strain on your relationships with your spouse/partner and your children. They may resent the time you spend with your parents and not with them.
- Conflict with your parents:
- Perhaps they don’t see that they need help or expect that you can provide the level of care they require. They may accuse you of “putting them in a home”.
- Legal knowledge:
- You may have to take a crash course in legal documents such as personal directives, power of attorney, etc.
- Guilt about:
- Your parents – you might feel resentment towards them – especially if they haven’t put their affairs in order or made preparations for this stage of their lives.
- Neglecting your own family – perhaps you are missing your kid’s milestones, sports events, or just time with them. Maybe you’ve put your relationship with your life partner on the back burner to tend to your parents, and it’s showing in a lack of connectedness or intimacy with your partner.
- Neglecting your work – perhaps your career is suffering because you can’t be fully present when your parents are facing such big issues in their lives or maybe you’ve missed lots of time at work due to appointments, meetings and responding to emergency calls.
- Fatigue and grief:
- This is a physically, emotionally, and even spiritually demanding time in your life. This can go on for years, with the only true “end” being the death of your parent/s. You are likely feeling grief about the loss of your parents for the way you’ve known them, and grief for the life you once had. This can all lead to depression and anxiety in your own personal life.
When is time to get help?
There’s no doubt about it – dealing with parents – especially if you are sandwiched in between their needs and the needs of your children, as is often the case, is stressful. It’s important to place your physical and mental health first. You are no good to anyone if you are burnt out, ill, or your mental health is suffering.
If you are experiencing the symptoms of:
To the point where it’s interfering with your quality of life, then it’s time to seek support.
Treatment methods for stress from dealing with aging parents
Depending on what you’re experiencing during this time in your life – there are different therapeutic approaches. There are many proven effective therapies for treating:
- Couples concerns
Your therapist can determine and then discuss with you, the best type of therapy for your particular situation.
What will I get out of treatment with Insight Psychological?
Meeting with a therapist can help you to navigate your complex feelings and your therapist can help you decide what challenges to tackle so you can feel like you’ve got control of your life and space to breathe. For example, maybe your aging parents are not the biggest issue you’re facing, but rather a sibling who feels their decisions are the only ones that are valid. Your therapist can help you to set and reach goals in improving communication with your sibling. Or maybe your spouse is very distant and accuses you of not caring about them since you’re never home anymore, and when you are – you’re exhausted. Alternatively, you may feel that they are being selfish and don’t offer to help more with the kids or house so you’re not so tired. You may be feeling like they don’t understand what you’re going through. Your therapist can help you to navigate some of these feelings and issues in your relationship – or you can both come in for couples counselling.
It’s important to know that you are not alone, and you do not have to struggle during this challenging tine in your life. Contact us to talk with an Intake and Administration team member who can help you choose a therapist that’s right for you.