If you have and elderly parent in need of care, you may be experiencing challenges you never even saw coming. Children of elderly dependent parents often express feelings of guilt, confusion, and frustration stemming from the judgment put upon them from others. Do you have an elderly parent that you provide full time live-in care for? Or does your parent now live in a nursing facility with 24 hr. care? Are you somewhere in between? These day there are more care options for the elderly than ever before. Caregiving can range from part time care to 24 hr. care and be provided by family, friends and or professional caregivers. Making the appropriate choice can be difficult especially when there are people who are more than willing to put their two cents in on how you could do better or how they would do it differently with their own parents.
Children of elderly parents often express feelings of judgement, being shamed by society if they choose not to take on the role of primary caregiver. A common misconception is that children should be primary caregivers to their parent because it is the sacrifice all loving children would for their elderly parents. This way of thinking seems to be a stigma in our society looming over children with the message that “good” sons or daughters must do the right or honorable thing and assume the role of primary caregiver if assistance is necessary due to physical, mental or other limitations caused by aging, illness or injury.
Many Children suffer from guilt if their parents are cared for by professionals instead of themselves hearing comments such as: “your parents took care of you as a child, now it is your turn to care for them.” While many children who do decide to become full or part-time caregivers to their parents deserve more praise than they likely receive, children who lovingly choose a different route also deserve credit when choosing professional care when it is the best choice for their parent and their family situation. Decisions regarding elderly care are not easily made and certainly should not be shammed by others who can only assume they know what is best from an outsiders perspective. Family dynamics can be rich, complicated and unique, there is no single right or wrong choice when it comes to caregiving decisions and it is about time that stigmas like these are put to bed.
Words of shame that keep the stigma alive:
“I could never put my parents in a nursing home”
How these words hurt:
Not only is this an assumption, it’s telling the listener loud and clear that if they did make a decision such as choosing a long term care facility for their loved one, they are a lesser person for it. We need to be careful when presuming what we would or would’t do in someone else’s shoes, because…we’re not. Even when circumstances are similar no two families are exactly alike and your journey is uniquely your own. If someone’s parent is receiving professional care instead of family care that certainly does not make them selfish or less compassionate. The majority of us suffer from foot-in-mouth from time to time, we are all human after all! But when we try to be mindful of our wording relationships can flourish instead of divide.
“Your parents sacrificed and cared for you as a child, now it’s your turn”
How these words hurt:
Everybody has a different type of relationship with their parent, right? you may or may not fully understand the dynamic of someone else’s relationship with their family growing up. Sometimes the most loving thing you can do is have a professional step in and care for the parent in ways that you are not able to due to your family history or other underlining factors. The most important thing is that your parent receives the right kind of care regardless of who provides it.
No matter what your caregiving decision includes, know that you are not alone in your endeavors. Every path comes with it’s own benefits and challenges. The more we all champion and support each other rather than shame (even without realizing it), the closer we become to ending the caregiving stigmas such as children who choose professional care are less loving. If you or someone you know is a primary caregiver to a parent or has a parent who is provided with professional care take some time today and give them a few words of encouragement.