Caring for aging parents

I was given a book by a dear friend to help me understand how to care for aging parents. The title is “The Overwhelmed Woman’s Guide to …. Caring for Aging Parents” by Ms. Julie-Allyson Ieron. I am going to share some of the chapters that captured my attention.

The chapter on the “Grumpy Old Men and Women” presented a vivid discussion of the reasons why we have this stereotyping of our seniors and why are they grumpy? Julie also recommended strategies to react to this behavior.

So, why are they grumpy? According to psychologist Alice Domar, the aging process can initiate several emotional responses in care receiver and caregiver. She says whatever coping mechanism we’ve created through life as we’ve dealt with change will be magnified when we’re confronted with age-associated change.

They have lost the people they once were. They are likely to be grieving the loss of their ability to do the things they used to do. This grief manifests itself in many different ways. Symptoms of grief range from shock and disbelief, to denial that change is taking place, to depression, loneliness, and a sense of isolation. More visible emotions, such as panic, hostility, and inability to function day-to-day, are also possible. Stubbornness, regression, and even rage can result from a sense of losing one’s former self.

Some of the emotions experienced by our seniors are fear, lack of trust, less ability to assimilate information, and less faith in God’s ability to take care of them. Perhaps you can relate to this. As the care receiver becomes agitated, we caregivers naturally respond by fighting back-escalating the issue. Sometimes, even the most patient caregiver is tested to the limit when bombarded by wave after wave of incoming verbal or physical blasts. Eventually, the pressure needs to be vented to stave off a full scale explosion.

Understanding that grief over lost independence may be at least partially to blame for a loved one’s tirade may help temporarily, but we’ll need more effective coping mechanisms if we are to find long term pressure valves.

Next week, we will explore strategies to deal with these emotional time bombs.

Your homework from the Care Ministry this week: please share with a friend of these plans.

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