Your whole life, your parents have cared for you. They taught you to walk, talk, run and spell and while they were doing that, they loved you unconditionally. I love my Mum more than anything and am 100% grateful for her turning me into the person I am today. I would be honoured to be half of the Mum she’s been to me.
However, one day, you might find yourself in the middle of a conversation with one of your parents and realise that your roles are very slowly, almost imperceptibly, swapping. (Don’t worry Mum, we’re not there yet.) Noticing that you’re repeating the same conversations, realising that you’re doing a lot of things around their house to help and even paying for grocery bills because the pension they are on doesn’t quite cover it all fall under a role of ‘parent’. Having to pay for help for personal care and deputyship solicitors to gain power of attorney for your relative can be financially draining as well as emotionally draining.
Recognising that the roles are slowly swapping over can be very tough to cope with and when you do finally realise what’s happening, you could end up feeling rather lonely. As a health and social care student, here are the best tips that I’ve learnt.
The Top Tips
Get as much information as you can on the condition your relative has. Information is power and if you know everything about their routines, medical issues and what they need, you can plan better and get advice from the best sources.
Acceptance is important. You could be feeling sad and overwhelmed and that’s normal, but put yourself into the shoes of your once strong and independent relative. Life has just changed for them in a way they didn’t expect, so all round acceptance of the situation is important.
Hold onto memories that are positive and happy. Reminisce and talk about the times before the roles had swapped so that you can remind each other than it hasn’t always been difficult.
Look after yourself. When you are a carer for someone else, it can often be difficult to remember that you were a person with a family and interests before. You need to ensure you have your own strong support system surrounding you so that you can continue on.
Life changes in scary ways as we age, and while not everyone will have to care for an elderly parent, it’s one of those things that can happen. Get support and advice where you can so you can do the best for yourself and for them.