How to bring back balance in life with ageing relatives?
The struggle may feel real but all that they need is a little TLC.
Do you think your work-life balance is challenged with the presence of ageing parents around? As they age, your parents’ needs tend to increase. ‘Adult children’, that they become, are often unprepared and lack the time, space or resources to meet the growing needs of their parents. Thus, caregiving can become a nightmare especially when you need to balance your personal life too.
To help you revive your relationship with ageing relatives and get a hold of life, we asked Krupa Shah to share her insights on this factor.
Do we owe a debt to our parents?
This question is very complicated because everyone thinks back to their childhood, what they experienced, what they received from their parents. Some children utilise this situation, when their parents become dependent, to pay their debt to them. It is also a way of expressing to them the gratitude that they have never managed to convey before. Isn’t it just easy to act than to convey it in words!
Without being judgemental, let’s also consider the segment who feel it is an unnecessary burden. After all, this generation has materialistic demands to meet. With the ever-increasing pressure of providing for their spouse and kids, many of us lose the empathy and emotion for our ageing folks.
Ideally, you need to stop treating your ageing parents as an obligation. Everyone has different parameters to assess what they can do for their parents.
Maintaining balance in everyday life with ageing relatives
Try for alternative help: if you have more than one sibling, each can take care of the parent or hire help. Hiring a temporary caregiver can somewhat reduce the stress you may feel trying to balance your life with the care of an elderly parent. But it will also be an additional expense, and the family should be prepared for it.
Managing finances: When a parent retires, you should talk to parents about health, financial resources, and insurance protection. It helps you assess the situation and create a project to manage a health crisis or manage home care when needed.
Freedom: Your parents need their freedom too. Don’t keep them home bound. Encouraging them to socialise or be a part of community activities will keep them engaged. This will also reduce your burden to spend time listening to all their stories after a tiring day at work.
Bonding: All your parents need is a validation that you still love and care for them. Organise weekly meals with the entire family or plan fortnightly outings. A weekend getaway once in few months will not pinch your pocket. Besides, it will give you some family time too.
Here are some more tips to help you get through this phase
- Make a good and real assessment of your parents’ needs (get help from the nursing staff who will be more objective);
- Have a sense of listening to your own needs and those of your parents;
- Formulate your ideas clearly;
- Overcome daily conflicts through empathetic listening. Do not run away from your problems as a couple by blaming each other;
- Know how to say clearly no or yes in appropriate situations;
- Understand and make your parents understand what is possible and not possible with gentleness and kindness.
And above all, don’t forget that sometimes it is not the quantity of time you spend with your elders, it is the quality. As long as your parents get the respect, care and affection in the family, there will be no room for complaints.