Being in a position of caring for an elderly relative is a challenging one. While it comes with the feeling of obligation, it doesn’t make it easy to cope with, and most people don’t feel like it’s okay to say that they’re finding it tough to deal with. It makes sense, though, that you’re finding it tough to look after an elderly relative. You’ve spent your entire life looking up to them and being taken care of by them, so why would you ever think it’ll be easy to take care of them in return? There is a huge range of emotion that you’re going to go through when you are looking after an elderly parent, and it doesn’t matter whether you find yourself suddenly in that position or you chose to be there for them, you will still have feelings about it.
Your emotions about this situation are valid. This is the most important thing that you should remember. They are valid, they are normal and most importantly, they are allowed. You deserve to have some support, which means that you shouldn’t have to suffer in silence. There may come a time that despite how hard you are finding things, you keep going until you no longer have to, and you may feel relief mixed in with grief. And that’s okay. You may also feel like you cannot cope with an elderly relative and so you start looking around care homes – that’s okay, too. You need to do whatever you can do for them, but you also need to look after yourself. The one common thread with coping with elderly relatives is that a lot of the time, they don’t want the help. And can you blame them?
They’ve spent their entire lives caring for you, your siblings and others around you, and now they are in a position where they are being cared for. It’s a great way for them to feel like they’re losing their identity. Plus, the more help that they require, the more they feel vulnerable and afraid of their own mortality. None of this means that you need to suck it up and find it easy. It just means that you can understand a little more about why your relative may be being difficult. You need to remember that taking care of yourself is important, and putting your life on hold may not be the best idea for all of you.
In the same way that angry teenagers take their hurt out on their parents, you could find that they take their hurt at their situation out on you. They’re not trying to make you unhappy, but it’s scary for them. You need to make sure that you have people around you to support you while you are supporting your relative. The most important thing that you can do is ask yourself what you need while you care for someone else, and give yourself what you need, too. It’s vital for your mental health and your own life – because that doesn’t stop going just because you do.