What to Expect When Caring for a Parent

Nothing truly prepares you for caregiving. And when you become a caregiver for a parent, your life can feel far from normal.

One of the last things you thought you might be doing was putting your life on hold to put your parent first. But when your parent is aging, losing their cognitive or physical abilities, or dealing with a terminal illness, you might feel like you have no other choice but to be there for them.

Caring for the Person Who Cared for You

It can be difficult to even know where to begin when taking care of a parent. The person who has always been there for you now needs you more than ever. This kind of situation can bring up all sorts of emotions.

You might feel a sense of guilt for not being there for them as much in the past, and now you might feel this enormous pressure to give them all you have. You could even experience what’s known as anticipatory grief. This is when you start to grieve your loved one while they’re still here because you might feel as if the end is near or that you’re losing parts of who they were.

No One Said Caregiving Was Easy

Taking on the responsibility of caregiver for a parent is no easy task. Putting someone else’s needs above your own can start to take a toll on you over time.

That’s why it’s critical that you set aside dedicated amounts of time for you to take care of you if you’re in a caregiving role. Some activities to consider to take your mind off of caregiving could be journaling or exercising. And when you’re taking care of someone else, whether part-time or full-time, it’s easy to forget to treat yourself. So remind yourself to eat well to keep up your energy and maybe consider aromatherapy to keep you in good spirits.

Remind Yourself of the Good Times

While taking care of an aging or ill parent can be challenging, cherish this time that you have together and remember the good times you’ve shared.

Even though you may not recognize them right now, and it’s hard to see them in a weakened position, take into account all of the life they’ve lived with you. Something to consider doing together might be going through old photos or scrapbooks. Relive those memories alongside them and share those stories.

Caregiving in and of itself is a job, but it doesn’t have to feel that way all of the time. So instead, find those special moments during the day to reminisce and remember the good times with your parent. They’ll appreciate that just as much as you do.

It’s Okay to Talk About How You’re Feeling

Caregiving can feel isolating, especially when you’re taking care of a parent. But you’re not in this alone. There are many other caregivers out there in similar situations as you. So take the time to join a support group or even talk to a professional counselor who can help you process everything you’re feeling.

Photo credit: Pexels, Matthias Zomer