When the Caregiving Dynamic is Complicated
Caregiving for an ill parent is a common and difficult experience, and it can be made even harder when the ill parent also happens to have been abusive.
Kelly’s parents had been physically and emotionally abusive throughout her childhood yet when Mom fell and broke her hip, Kelly was the only one of her siblings living in the area. All of the caregiving fell on her. Kelly ended up driving back and forth every day to visit her Mom and take care of Dad – both insisting that she should be helping the other one but not them. While Kelly sees other caregivers with thankful, beloved relatives, this isn’t her situation.
"One study of 1,000 caregivers found that 19% had been abused as children and 9% had been neglected. Caregivers of abusive parents were more likely to experience signs of clinical depression"
Many adult children end up providing care for their aging parents, and a difficult family dynamic can make it even more stressful. They can struggle to balance caring for their parent with their own work and responsibilities, oftentimes dealing with physical, financial, and emotional stress. The range of complicated relationship can range from having personalities that don’t mesh well together, to Mom being disappointed in what seems like all of your life choices, to having grown up in with physically or emotionally abusive parent.
In spite of these complications, here we are, caring for someone who may not be receptive to our care and with whom we have challenging emotional baggage.
Here are three things that can help you deal with that loved one without losing your cool or becoming enmeshed in old relationship patterns:
1. Bring in an expert
Recruit professional help to talk with your parent. Getting assistance from doctors, social workers, or a geriatric care manager (aging life professional) can help smooth out the difficulties you may be having. They can help you:
- Access support services that are available to you
- Help facilitate working through the issues you have with your family member (sometimes this can be the partner of your parent or your siblings as well)
- Educate you on the medications your parent is taking, and give you information on any therapies your loved one may benefit from
2. Find a good counselor
Caregiving for a parent is hard on its own; when we have a history of negative interactions with our loved one we may notice old issues coming up that we had put away.
A few reasons counselling or therapy can be helpful are:
- They can give you coping tools to help with the current situation
- They can help you understand how your past relationship is affecting the present one
- Learn how to set boundaries and communicate those to your parent
3. Bring in help to lighten the load
Whether it is getting family members or friends to spell you off do not be afraid to ask for help.
You can hire professional care to come in to help as well. In-home caregivers can help by providing personal care, nutritious meals, and housekeeping services. The companion may be able to drive your parent to appointments, and will also provide your loved one with a new person to talk to!
"Some people make peace with their abusive parents, but that doesn’t mean there will ever be a healthy relationship between them"
When you have a complicated history with a parent providing care can be a mishmash of good and bad. Some caregivers are able to see the relationship in a new light and experience reconciliation during this time. Others may not see a change, but are able to feel good knowing they did what they could.
Promyse Home Care
With over 20 years experience, Promyse Home Care is a perfect example of an established home care agency that specializes in providing nurse case managed home care services for all ages in Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambridge.
Promyse Home Care. A Better Life Together