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What We Tell Ourselves When Caregiving Begins

After years of work with adult daughters and sons whose aging parents had just begun to decline, one sentiment, or way of thinking, was by far the most common.  It goes something like this:

“Mom and/or dad only need my help temporarily.”

Before I go any further, I want to say that the this may actually be true.

Depending upon what happened that led your aging parent to need your help, the circumstances may resolve with time.  The best way to know for sure is to speak to his/her primary care physician (i.e. the doctor who knows your parent best).

But the point of this post is to alert you that sometimes things don’t resolve, and the assistance that your aging parent needs now is what he/she will continue to need for the long term.

That can be difficult to take in and may take some time to realize fully.

Your aging parent’s need for ongoing help can also be easy to miss for a few reasons:

  • Your parent says he/she is fine.

Raise your hand if you’ve heard this one before.  Okay, I can’t actually see your hands, but experience tells me that a lot of them just went up in the air ;).

Aging happens slowly making it challenging for our parents to realize things are changing too.  Perhaps they’ve always been independent and so expect to continue taking care of themselves just as they always have even when it becomes clear that they aren’t managing well.

  • You want them to (need them to) bounce back to their normal selves because your plate is full, you live far away, and/or you have siblings who won’t help.

Trust me when I say that there are a lot of you in this boat.

And although babysitters can be found for a weekend or even a week, and work can sometimes be done remotely if you have a job like that, there comes a time when you need to go home, or dramatically change your life to accommodate the new role of family caregiver.  This can be extremely challenging, not to mention emotionally and financially complicated if your siblings are disengaged.

  • You don’t know where to begin when it comes to finding long-term help for your aging parents.

I had to slip this one in here because it may just be the most common.  It’s also the problem I’m trying to help solve by creating this site and by making myself available to you free of charge.

The elder care maze and all that needs to be done when an aging parent begins to need help can easily overwhelm a person.  Sometimes it’s easier to believe that things aren’t so bad and that a new chapter hasn’t really begun yet.  If you are beginning to see that maybe it has, seek support.


Have you been providing care to an aging parent for some time?  If so, what did you tell yourself when your caregiving journey began that you later realized was untrue?

Please leave your thoughts in the comments below or get in touch.

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