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Managing Role Reversal When Caring For Elderly Parents

Posted by Deb Spinelli on 11/10/2015
When we were children, our parents were always they when we needed them. They provided love, support, advice, and so much more. After so many years of relying on our parents for strength and encouragement, it can be difficult when the roles are reversed and we are thrust into the caregiver role that has so long been the domain of our parents.

As parents age, more and more of the responsibility for their care can fall on their adult children. The transitional period during with roles are being rearranged and redefined can be a particularly difficult time for both aging parents and their adult children. Having spent a life time handling their own financial decisions, medical issues, and day-to-day tasks, some elderly persons can find it difficult to hand over some of these responsibilities to their adult children or other caregivers. This may be true even in cases where it is obvious to all parties that such a shift in responsibilities is absolutely necessary.

From the caregiver perspective, it can be difficult to watch as our parents, who were once so vibrant and capable, begin to decline. In cases of Alzheimer's and Dementia, where the decline is more pronounces, this can be especially difficult. This does not mean that the caregiver's relationship with his or her aging parents must lose some of its vibrancy or decline along with the loved one's health. Instead, this can serve as a time for parents and children to reconnect and form even stronger bonds. For some caregivers, it is even possible to forge more fulfilling relationships with parents than they ever enjoyed before.

Sometimes, of course, the difficulties associated with role reversal can be too much for a caregiver to handle alone. If you are having difficulty coping with the emotional, physical, or financial toll of caring for your elderly parent or other relative, there are a variety of support groups available to help you deal with the difficulties inherent in the caregiver role. Ask your health care provider for a list of support services in your area. After all, it's impossible to care for anyone if you can't first care for yourself.

Posted in: Elderly Care