Join us in welcoming Carol-Ann Hamilton as our guest blogger today. Ms. Hamilton is a coach and healer who helps stressed-out caregivers successfully deal with change-resistant aging parents. Her books Coping with Un-cope-able Parents: LOVING ACTION for Eldercare and Coping with Un-cope-able Systems: ADVOCACY for Eldercare are available at www.copingwithuncopeableparents.com. Claim your free Rescue Guide and book your confidential Readiness Session at (905) 822-2503.
10 Eldercare Tips for the Sandwich Generation
Do you relate?
So, what differentiates a manageable from an impossible aging parent?
A cooperative elder willingly engages in dialogues to plan life’s next chapter. A belligerent senior refuses any such conversation. If you’ve ever:
- Met stubborn resistance in merely hinting it’s time to leave their familiar residence;
- Battled over in-home care because they can no longer manage basic daily tasks;
- Found your exhausted capacity never satisfies their needy bottomless pit.
You have difficult parents. And you need support – now.
Allow me to introduce myself.
As the only child of excruciating folks, I coined the expression “un-cope-able” to capture 54 years of impossibility survived.
Though my background for over 30 years has centered on leadership development, performance coaching, and team-building, I soon learned these same corporate skills prove equally useful in navigating the eldercare marathon.
Today, I convey sincere gratitude that no victory with my stubborn duo arrived easily. If I can now help Sandwich Generation members avoid a fraction of my anguish, my work here is done.
Pick and choose your techniques.
Let me save you time and aggravation. Here’s a partial list of what does NOT work: beg; cajole; demand; override; quarrel; retaliate; make wrong.
As poet Maya Angelou famously stated: “People won’t always remember what you said, but they’ll always remember how you left them feeling.” As such, there’s definitely an art to conducting challenging eldercare conversations – consisting of both “what” (gets said) and “how” (points are expressed).
Below you will find nine tips that combine LOVING attitudes and focused ACTIONS.
- Trust Timing. What seems irreconcilable can suddenly break through wondrously. When the moment is right, support previously rejected may be miraculously accepted. Impatience slows progress. Tolerance speeds it up.
- When your headway is zero, let go of control. Attachment to what folks “should” do creates resistance. Out-of-the-box solutions only arrive when you’re open to trusting your intuition (gut).
- Reframe Self-Talk. Ready for phone calls or visits like an important business meeting or client interaction. Operate with facts. Go in confident.
- Practice Appreciation. What we focus upon expands. Unwanted thoughts bring more unwanted. What if you expressed gratitude for your parents’ positive traits?
- QTIP! Quit Taking It Personally. Your folks’ “naughty” behaviors aren’t about you. Allow them to drone on about glory days. For some, it’s all they have left.
- It is OK to experience so-called “negative” feelings such as anger and resentment. You needn’t demonstrate saintly devotion to prove you’re a “good” son or daughter.
- Plant Seeds. Don’t wait for an express invitation to intervene on serious matters like “giving up” driving. Begin essential dialogues sooner than later.
- Measure Progress. Never use the term “surrender” (as in car keys)! Careless and unconscious language is a sure-fire recipe for raising hackles. Inches and step-by-step strides do constitute forward movement.
- Operate Deliberately. Crafty elders can be like teenagers on a joyride after midnight. They’ll try to avoid or deflect contentious topics. Don’t let them. It’s vital that proper arrangements such as wills, banking, and medical care are attended to.
No matter how grievous your circumstances, you can prevail with intractable elders. However, you must remember:
- Practice Self-Care. Daily time to recharge is neither a luxury to be squeezed in after chores nor selfish. Caregivers have a 63% higher death rate than peers without such burden. As the airlines say, don your own oxygen mask first in an emergency.
You’re not alone. Many travel your heavy path. May yours be a journey from desperation to inspiration to hope!