Any guesses what that title is about? Perhaps the picture gives it away. We suppose that saying caring too much is a mistake can be applied to a wide variety of circumstances. There is one occurence where caring too much will have truly devastating consequences. We’re talking about coping with an elderly parent.
Once you reach a certain age, you’ll find that your parents need you more frequently. They might have medical issues that put them in hospital frequently. They could develop a condition like a stroke that might impact their ability to communicate. They may even develop dementia, forgetting who you are and who they are. It’s not a particularly pleasant thing to think about but it is something that we’re all going to probably have to deal with at some point or another. 1 in 6 people over the age of eighty have Dementia so these issues with elderly parents are alarmingly common.
So, why then would we say that caring too much can be the worst mistake when coping with an elderly patient. If you care too much, you’re going to try to step up, do what you think you should and let them move into your home. There are a number of crucial reasons why this is a mistake.
You’re Not A Caregiver
It’s understandable to want to be there to support your parent or even feel like you have a duty to do this. After all, they certainly cared for you when you were younger. So, why wouldn’t you want to care for them? Why wouldn’t you help them in their time of need? The answer to these completely reasonable questions is that it will change every aspect of your relationship with the parent. They could even grow to resent you because you’ll have to take the hard jobs and yes, in some cases, even treat them as you would a child. This can be difficult for a parent.
Many children have experienced what it’s like to become the carer of someone who used to be their world. It is not an easy experience and that’s ignoring completely the drain that this could ultimately be on your life.
You’re Not There
You might think that by letting your elderly parent live with you, you are providing them with a constant source of company and someone who they can socialise with. But are you actually? Think about it for a moment because usually when parents need this kind of care, you won’t be retired. You’ll still be in the midst of your life and that means you won’t be in all day, neither will your partners and even if you have children at school age, they will only be able to help so much. Most of the time they will be in school and after that they will have their own life to live.
Of course, the other option is that you give up your life and instead commit to caring for your parent completely. But again, you’re going to find that this is an enormous drain on who you are and where you want to be.
It might seem odd but elderly parents are often better off in assisted living environments because there they do have people to socialize with. They have activities through the day and they can connect with people their own age. There are plenty of assisted living companies like Mcknight Place that offer these possibilities. You can contact Mcknight Place to find out more about the type of socializing available here and other things like this that an elderly parent just can’t get living with you.
It Can Be Dangerous
You might decide to care for an elderly parent with Dementia. It’s important to understand how dangerous this can be. If they are not aware of their surroundings or forget who they are, they can put you, your family and themselves in serious danger. Those suffering from dementia have been known to start fires accidentally, fall down the stairs after forgetting they were there and even get hit by cars in the street. Bare in mind that these type of dangers don’t just apply to elderly parents with dementia. Anyone over eighty is vulnerable when it comes to trips, slips and falls. These can happen at anytime. While they may still occur in an assisted living environment they are far less likely because the environment is set up in a way to avoid these types of accidents.
The Promises Of The Twilight Years
The twilight years should be some of the best of your life. It should be a chance time you can relax free from the pressures of the world and just enjoy the slow life. However, elderly parents who either stay in their home or live with their relatives tend to end up in a vicious cycle. An accident happens that is enough for them to end up in hospital. They recover partially and are sent home where due to their more vulnerable state another accident happens. After being taken home again, they are completely bedridden and their quality of life is drastically limited. This can be avoided if they receive the right care and attention in the right environment before they reach this stage. If possible it is best to have your parents at home, but sometimes their care may be too much and you have to opt for something else.
The problem here is we often think that by either helping them stay at home or moving them into our home, it shows the highest level of care. We’re doing the right thing, we’re giving them their independence or providing the support they need. When in fact the opposite can be true. Ultimately, keeping an elderly parent away from a proper care facility can be more damaging. This won’t be true in every case of course but the majority of the time, doing something that seems less caring could actually be what’s best for your elderly parent. Particularly if you want them to have the quality of life in their later years that they do indeed deserve.