Guilt and Caring for Aging Parents – II

Lynne Coon, M.S., is a Licensed Professional Counselor and you can find out more about her and her services on her website:  She specializes in helping adults with aging parents as well as other caregivers, cope with the emotional and practical aspects of care giving.  Here’s Part 2 of the second article she contributed

“Below is the second of the two most common worries my clients have concerning their aging parents; an example of how my clients have responded to these worries; the reactions from their parents and a suggestion for another way of dealing with these feelings of guilt.

#2  Mom or Dad will feel abandoned if I don’t call or visit frequently.

This belief is especially common when a parent moves into assisted living or a nursing home. The stage may also be set for this if, when your parent was still living independently, you needed to check in often to see how they were doing or to provide help.

The result:

  • Mom or Dad doesn’t make friends or get involved in activities or events where they live. They may become dependent on their kids for entertainment and socialization and understandably, rely on them more.
  • The adult child can’t keep up the frequent visits; they feel trapped when they see how much Mom or Dad depends on them and then become resentful.
  • Time spent with aging parents isn’t enjoyable; it’s a chore.

When a parent first moves into a new living situation, visiting a few times evry week, or checking in by phone can be helpful, for the first few weeks, as they adjust.  Ask:  how they’re settling in, about activities they’re taking part in, and about any new friends they’re making.  If you find that your parent is not getting out, discuss this with the Administrator. Enlist their help in getting your parent involved rather than taking it on yourself. At the same time, slowly taper visits down to an amount that is realistic to maintain and that allows you to enjoy the time you spend with your parent.

If you’ve already set the expectation that you will visit often, consider sharing with them how much difficulty you’re having meeting all your obligations and ask their permission to visit less. There are two reasons to approach it this way.

1. They may be relieved that you won’t be coming as often

2. You’re asking for their help and parents generally want to help their children

Helping parents as they age is challenging. Most adult children have the best of intentions when they provide help. Becoming aware of what motivates your behavior and that of your parents can reduce the stress on all of you and help to keep communication channels open.”

“It is kind of fun to do the impossible”  Walt Disney