Setting Boundaries with Your Parents
Setting boundaries with parents as they age is an essential aspect of being a family caregiver. However, it’s a complicated issue to talk about and even harder to implement.
It’s essential to learn the right way to respectfully say “no” while letting go of any guilt that comes with saying that.
If you already feel as if you have enough on your plate, establishing boundaries in your caregiving role will be critical.
As your parents continue to age, their needs will increase, and you may not be able to provide the same level of care.
In addition to being unable to manage your parents’ needs as well, being stretched too thin could also impact other relationships and areas of life.
Adult children and other family caregivers may not always realize they are doing more than enough to meet their parents’ needs until they begin to feel resentful, frustrated, etc.
Setting boundaries early on can go a long way to stop those negative feelings or caregiver burnout from building up.
For such a necessary part of caregiving, it can be extremely tough to practice. There are many reasons why you or someone else may struggle to set boundaries with your parents.
This could be an issue you dealt with when you were younger and has come to the surface now that you are interacting with them more. You may need more support before talking to your parents.
But, just like there are so many reasons why boundaries are hard to lay, there are just as many ways to set them.
Doing so opens the door for a better relationship between you and your parents, especially as you spend more time with them.
Here are some ideas for approaching this tricky topic.
It Takes Two to Tango
One person doesn’t break boundaries; they’re broken by two. You have the option to draw the line. Try and think about why you don’t say no.
You might be a natural people-pleaser, or fear upsetting them. Whatever your reason for always saying yes is, it won’t change how you feel.
Addressing the basics of your feelings will make you feel more at ease about setting boundaries for yourself.
No ≠ Rejection
What does no mean to you? Do you see it as a form of rejection? When you say no, try to differentiate between what you are “rejecting.” After all, there is a difference between rejecting your parents and telling them you can’t help.
Consider Helping Yourself
When caregiving duties border on overwhelming, consider hiring someone to help with requests. You could find a part-time caregiver or a housekeeper.
If it’s possible, you may want to ask another family member for assistance. Finding support with other relatives can go a long way.
Discuss your situation with immediate family members and explain what your parents’ care entails. You should share your ideas of what is reasonable and manageable for everyone to offer.
Decide what needs you and other family members can and cannot meet and identify any extra resources. Be firm about what you are willing to do, what you aren’t, and why.
If you live far away from your relatives or parents, find how you can offer your support and actively connect with them.
Lay Out What You Can And Can’t Do
Discussing this with your senior parents is critical for your well-being. Once you feel ready for the reaction you receive, let your parents know why you can’t meet their needs.
The next part is explaining their options, whether you want another caregiver, respite care, etc. Doing so may help any fears they have about the future of their care.
Don’t Let Your Emotions Run The Conversation
Carefully think about your feelings toward your caregiving role. Avoid falling into past familial patterns. As you plan setting boundaries with your parents, ignore prior offenses or resentments.
Don’t let conflict between other family members, like siblings, interfere with your need for boundaries, either.
Your parents’ care is a crucial time where families must work together to provide the best possible care for them.
Don’t Let Guilt Get To You
You might carry guilt for choosing not to act as your loved one’s caregiver. But another relative who is in a better position to handle the responsibilities or is closer to your parents may be better suited for that role.
It’s not uncommon for family arguments, disagreements, and tensions to arise when setting boundaries with parents. But it’s crucial to resolve these problems sooner rather than later.
What You Do Is Enough
Whether you live locally or long distance, what you offer your parents is enough. There may be opportunities for you to assist financially, look up senior services, or call your parents regularly.
When you visit your parents, offer to relieve the primary caregiver when you have the opportunity. If you live close, grocery shopping or transportation to appointments can be beneficial.
A qualified caregiver can help with everyday care, assist with medications for thyroid treatment, and assist with transportation to appointments.
For more information and resources about senior health and safety, visit the Blog.
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