Well here goes a foray into a subject I know just a little about, but a lot less than some people: Elder Care. I thought one of our Top Ten Tips might be the best way to handle this emotionally charged and draining topic/activity. (I will post a similar set of tips for those being cared for when I figure out what they might want to hear or if someone in care wants to send me tips.)
So here goes:
- Remember that your elderly parent can still push your pain/guilt/shame buttons because they installed them and your boundaries are completely invisible to them
- My parents’ generation never learned the ‘meta-level’: to talk about talking so that you can figure out better ways to talk about fixing what is wrong
- Last time your parents were in a power relation with you, they had the power and they are never going to accept the reversal
- Whatever relationship you had with your parents all your life, it just gets exaggerated when they age and become dependent. i.e. If your parents were awkward at 40; guess what they will be impossibly awkward at 80.
- Your parents grew up in a different world from you and are likely never going to adapt that ‘this is what it is’, so arguments about basic reality will be common
- I have never met an elder who was not de-hydrated, or one that recognized it, and was willing to do anything about it: like drink water. Come to think of it, I can’t recall meeting an elder who had taken much care of their body: they are all Cartesian Dualists thinking that their mind can float free of their bodies, which might be a good idea, but exercise is still a good idea
- As their health deteriorates the pathological need to be in control grows proportionally. This almost lead to my Dad getting out of a moving car in the medical center car park when he was 15 minutes early for a doctor’s appointment
- ‘Cut it out’ is a respectful way to stop outrageous performances
- It is real hard to be empathetic with your parents when they seem unable to return the favour; and no doubt they feel the same.
- Friends telling you how to handle elder care better and providing unsolicited advice really suck and are best told to ‘cut it out!’