THE ELDERLY AND CAREGIVING

Trying to take care of your aging parents is taxing but also a gift. I say it is a gift because you get to repay them for the love and nurturing that they gave you. One of the challenges with dealing with your siblings is knowing that someone with a background is equipped with the training and experience to deal with this type of issue. I had to deal with the questioning and and a sibling posturing for position, trying to prove that one sibling has more influence over my mother. I recently experience this with some of my siblings. I have to admit I was irritated.

Here I am, the trained professional, both from an academic, counseling and legal background getting angry with my younger siblings for their interference. I had everything lined up for my mother and now they had the nerve to question me! I arranged for my mother to attend a day program, see a mental health professional and my aunt convinced her to have knee surgery. I was so angry; I let them take on the responsibility to prove how right I was. Of course, the outcome was exactly as I expected. My sisters, my aunt and my boss said something to me that made me realize that I have to think about securing my mother rather than proving them wrong and incompetent. I was planning to move far away and distance myself so that they could feel the brunt of their transgression.

I was so ready to gloat about how I proved them wrong. I forgot that the real issue at hand is ensuring that my mother gets what she needs. At that moment, I realize that if I am not careful, I could have make it about me being the “expert”.

My aunt also stepped in and did a wonderful job taking care of my mother. Even with her own issues, she loved my mother enough to take care of her. This was later met with interference!

Here are some tips to keep one focused on your parents’ needs:

  1. Pitch in- Ask what you can do to help. One sibling should not take on the whole responsibility.
  2. Don’t criticize- If you are not helping, you are not part of the solution.
  3. Be creative- Think of ways that are going to engage all of the siblings to help.
  4. Stay focused- it is not about you, it is about your parents. Stay clear of the “I’ll show you” mentality. They can be the three most dangerous words in the English language. Also, if you are a professional in this field, this is not the time to flaunt your expertise.
  5. Be transparent; communicate- I learned that you have to explain to your siblings what choices and decisions you are considering. There was an occasion when I had scheduled for a nurse to visit my mother and my mother called my younger brother to pick her up to visit. I was angry that he would pick her up after I scheduled the nurse visit. However, I did not inform him that the nurse was coming. We both realized that my mother was using him to dodge the nurse.
  6. Do not commit if you do not know what the responsibility entails- If you do not have the time and patience to take care of your parents’ needs and your other siblings do, let them.
  7. Love is not being passive- You have to be willing to make the tough decisions to help your parents. You have to know your limitations. My younger siblings thought that having my mother at home with them would help her. They later realized that they were ill equipped to give her what she needed.
  8. DO NOT TRY TO DIAGNOSE YOUR PARENTS. – One must get a proper diagnosis from a trainer professional.There are many similar symptoms

As I always mention, please report all incidents to the proper authorities. You can also find information on the National Center on Elder Abuse’s website at http://www.ncea.aoa.gov. Please feel free to leave your questions or comments.

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