None of it may be easy, but for so many people it is an extraordinary privilege to care for their elderly parents and relatives.
Roles may reverse and relationships may change forever, but it is, at the end of the day, all about family.
It may be gradual, or an overnight sensation, but if you become the parent for your parent, hopefully it won’t freak you out too much.
It can be a peculiar feeling and take some adjustment to making the decisions historically the domain of Mum or Dad.
The best advice we have been given is to do it gracefully: don’t take all control and every decision away. Treat your parents like your parents.
All sorts of amazing family dynamics and emotions can come in to play. None of it is easy to predict or to manage. Again, the best advice we have been given is “This too will pass” – take a deep breath, count to ten before you wade in with your personal views on something!
There are also some practical things you can do to minimise family angst.
Checklist for family harmony
- Share as much of the decision-making and practical care as you can. You are still a family after all.
- Ask yourself whether you are excluding others? Sometimes when under pressure it’s easier to do things ourselves, but that may foster suspicion about what is going on.
- Organise regular family meetings or updates (whatsapp groups etc) to keep everyone in touch. You can ask the professionals to get involved in these too to help take some of the heat from you.
- Recognise that other family members may make different choices and you can’t change them.
- To best avoid stirring up all those long held resentments etc try and keep the focus on what needs to happen now.