Setting Boundaries With Difficult Elderly Parents – The Caring Generation®

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The Caring Generation® – Episode 31 March 25, 2020 On this caregiving radio program, Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, shares ten tips for Setting Boundaries with Difficult Elderly Parents. Examples of conversations to have with elderly parents about caregiving demands are offered throughout this caregiver program.

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Setting Boundaries With Difficult Elderly Parents Radio Show Transcript

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00:04 Announcer: Caregiving can sometimes feel like an impossible struggle. Caregivers may be torn between taking care of loved ones and trying to maintain balance in life. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. The Caring Generation with host Pamela D. Wilson is here to focus on the conversation of caring. You’re not alone; in fact, you are in exactly the right place to share stories and learn tips and resources to help you and your loved ones. So now, please welcome the host of The Caring Generation, Pamela D. Wilson.

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00:47 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m your host. You’re listening to The Caring Generation radio program coming to you live from the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. The Caring Generation focuses on conversations about health, well-being, caring for ourselves and loved ones, all tied together with humor and laughter that are essential to being a caregiver. Our topic for this radio show is setting boundaries with difficult elderly parents. The idea of setting boundaries with difficult elderly parents came from several caregivers that I talk to almost every day, who feel stuck in caregiving relationships with sometimes difficult and sometimes manipulative elderly parents. I will share ten situations and solutions for setting boundaries with difficult elderly parents, and I will weave in how the coronavirus is affecting caregivers. So that we know how to set limits to take better care of ourselves and make sure that we’re not passing viruses or any other illnesses to our elderly parents, our grandparents, or other people. Let’s start talking about ten situations for setting boundaries with difficult elderly parents.

Why Yes Isn’t Always the Best Response When Caring for Aging Parents

02:05 Pamela D. Wilson: The first is to remember that you and your family come first before caring for elderly parents. While caregivers feel a responsibility and a duty to care for elderly parents, spouses, and children come first. I’ve known a lot of caregivers who let the care of elderly parents come between their families. Putting your family first and setting boundaries with difficult elderly parents is an area where guilt starts to creep into caregiving situations. Let’s talk about how cultural differences and expectations for the Hispanic, Asian, European-American, and African-American caregivers enter into the subject of setting boundaries with difficult elderly parents. Research by Jennifer Pharr and her colleagues confirm that these cultures provide more care for elderly parents, and are much less likely to seek out any type of formal caregiving support. Caregiving roles are an expected part of life passed down from generation to generation. For some of the people in the Pharr study, the decision to be a caregiver was irrelevant. Meaning what they thought didn’t matter. Becoming a caregiver was mentioned as something that a person did without asking questions.

03:29 Pamela D. Wilson: Setting boundaries in these situations with difficult elderly parents was discouraged. Statements like, “Family is family and you take care of each other regardless,” were common in these cultural research groups. In many of these cultures, the daughter, whether the oldest or youngest, is assumed to be the caregiver for the elders. The study indicated that European-Americans were not nurtured as much from a young age as were the Hispanic, Asian, and African-American cultures to provide care. But the European cultures still view being a caregiver as a personal responsibility. In many cultures, especially the Asian culture saying, no to caregiving means disrupting family relationships, and it’s not viewed as acceptable behavior. European and the other caregiving groups cited a similar belief about not abandoning elderly parents. If these beliefs are prevalent in a large part of society, how do exhausted and unexpected caregivers manage when the caregiving role has a negative impact on health and well-being? In these situations, setting boundaries with elderly parents must be looked at as self-care activities so that you can continue caregiving roles and responsibilities. What does that mean for caregivers with ingrained cultural beliefs about caring for elderly parents, no matter what?

05:00 Pamela D. Wilson: Cultural views may mean that putting yourself or family first may be a little difficult. However, when we look at the research about caregiving—that also confirms that being a caregiver is stressful and affects physical and mental health—the importance of self-care may be easier to understand and accept as being equally important. Let’s bring in the idea of the coronavirus to talk about the concept of staying healthy. Our bodies remain healthy most of the time because our bodies fight off viruses, infections, and other diseases. In times of stress and pandemics like the coronavirus, if we don’t take care of our body, it becomes more susceptible to illness. Younger people who don’t have chronic diseases like heart disease, COPD or breathing issues, asthma, arthritis, cancer, kidney disease, younger people without those diseases are less likely to acquire the virus. But feeling healthy doesn’t mean that we can’t carry the virus around, we can. Carrying the virus, but not having any visible symptoms of the virus and passing it along to elderly parents and grandparents, is why there’s so much discussion today about social distancing, and many states have issued stay-at-home orders.

06:18 Pamela D. Wilson: It’s easy for a healthy younger person to bring the virus into the home of an elderly parent or grandparent who has one or more of these chronic diseases. The elderly parent or grandparent then may become seriously ill and honestly can die from the virus. The coronavirus isn’t the only virus that’s serious for the elderly. The flu and pneumonia are two other very deadly viruses for the elderly. In essence, the difference is that we have optional vaccines for both of these viruses that have reduced the annual death rates to about 50,000 for each virus. So about 100,000 deaths annually in the United States for the flu and the pneumonia combined happen every year. Having annual flu vaccinations and pneumonia vaccinations as directed are the best preventative measures for all adults to reduce the likelihood of having one of these viruses. Vaccinations and health prevention should be an area of discussion when setting boundaries with difficult elderly parents.

07:18 Pamela D. Wilson: “Mom or Dad, I agree to care for you. However, you have to help me by caring for yourself. I want to know that each year you have a flu vaccination and that you have had a pneumonia vaccination at the frequency recommended by your physician.” Caregivers, the same goes for you. In setting boundaries with difficult elderly parents, you must take care of your health and your well-being. Proper health prevention means an annual flu vaccination for you and your children so that none of you are bringing the virus into the home of an elderly loved one. The same applies to being sick with the cold, or other illness. If you’re sick, don’t visit your elderly parents or grandparents. Don’t go to work. Don’t pass it around. Because elderly people—grandparents and parents—they may not recover from the virus. The idea of setting boundaries with difficult elderly parents brings up the idea of caregivers becoming as sick if not sicker than the persons for whom they care. That’s because of caregiver stress.

08:19 Pamela D. Wilson: If you have caregiver stress, you’re probably having headaches, stomachaches, other illnesses, and you have a duty to take better care of yourself so that you can be that caregiver. Tips for caregivers and aging adults about health, well-being, and caregiving are on my website, PamelaDWilson.com, as well as all of the podcasts from The Caring Generation radio shows and the show transcripts that you can read. This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert on The Caring Generation, live on the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. Follow me on social media. On Facebook, watch my videos, follow me, and share posts. My page is pameladwilson.page. You can also search for my caregiving group and join. It is called The Caregiving Trap. We will return to this discussion after this break about all of the ideas of setting boundaries with difficult elderly parents. You are with me on The Caring Generation live on the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. Stay with me. We’ll be right back.

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11:41 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m your host. You’re listening to The Caring Generation radio program for caregivers, and aging adults coming to you live from the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. Visit my website, PamelaDWilson.com, for helpful information for caregivers and aging adults. Let’s return to our prior conversation about the importance of caregivers and self-care to minimize emotional distress and physical illness that happens because we are caregivers. The importance of self-care confirms that setting boundaries with difficult elderly parents has the goal of also preserving the health of the caregiver. If you are a caregiver feeling guilty, the idea of self-care might lead you to think that you, as the caregiver should feel guilty placing your health and well-being over the health and well-being of an elderly parent.

12:34 Pamela D. Wilson: But answer this question. If you are not healthy, who does that leave to care for your elderly parent or a spouse? Let’s go to the next question that caregivers have asked relative to the coronavirus. What is a nursing home lockdown? We’ve all heard that nursing homes where elderly parents reside are shutting the doors. This may shock you, but nursing homes going on what is called lockdowns are nothing new. Lockdowns happen every year. Sometimes multiple times a year. Why is this receiving more attention now? It’s because people are worried about the Coronavirus, and they’re hearing all of these crazy stories in the news about adult children stalking elderly parents and loved ones by knocking on windows at nursing homes. What about this virus makes it impossible for anybody to pick up the phone and make a phone call to talk with your parent or grandparent in a nursing home? A phone call seems like a pretty simple way to communicate with family members. The goal of these news stories is just melodrama and to get your attention. Dramatic, negative, and inaccurate news stories cause more fear. Seeking the facts eliminates that fear.

13:42 Pamela D. Wilson: The reason that nursing homes and assisted living communities where elderly live, choose to lockdown every year is because of a different virus. It’s the norovirus. Like the coronavirus, the norovirus is easily transmitted. Nursing homes choose to lock down the doors to prevent the spread of the virus, much like we’re all doing with self-isolating. They don’t want people to bring in the virus from the outside. The coronavirus didn’t start in a nursing home. Someone brought it in. So, following that thought process, is it easier to understand why healthy young people with no symptoms during a time like this can infect the elderly? We all have a responsibility not to make anybody sick, especially our elderly parents and our grandparents. We also have a responsibility to stay healthy. This all falls in with the idea of setting boundaries with difficult elderly parents, and it has a positive instead of a negative effect. The other effects for adult children caregivers is if you become sick today, diagnosed with one or more of these chronic diseases, heart disease, diabetes, you are creating a future care burden setting it up for your children or other family members to be your caregiver.

14:54 Pamela D. Wilson: This takes that saying of, “Two wrongs don’t make a right,” a further step. Think of this. Because you choose to care for elderly parents and allow the stress to damage your health, then that makes it okay to carry down this burden to the next generation and make your children care for you? How logical is that? Where’s the idea of self-responsibility and a duty of self-care in this thought process? You don’t have to pass health issues and burdens of care down to the next generation, down to your children, if you begin setting boundaries with difficult elderly parents, and start taking better care of yourself as a caregiver. And to answer the question of, “Should I take my elderly parent out of a nursing home?” The answer is probably not. Your elderly parent is in a nursing home because mom or dad have medical needs. Where’s the logic in taking a frail, older adult who is highly susceptible to virus out into a community where there’s more virus susceptibility and to take them away from medical care? My vote is no. Don’t take your parents out of a nursing home. But everybody has to make their own decisions.

16:00 Pamela D. Wilson: Let’s look at the second situation related to setting boundaries with difficult elderly parents. Why do we view this as negative instead of positive? Any idea? Is it because the idea of setting a boundary relates to changing behaviors? Change is difficult. Doing and saying nothing may be the easiest path. But then we add to this the cultural differences. For example, one person feels that challenging opinions is a positive way of communicating. Where another person feels that challenging an opinion shows disrespect. These opposing opinions make setting boundaries with difficult elderly parents challenging when you have adult children who have different beliefs or mixed families that come from different cultural backgrounds. As caregivers, let’s permit ourselves to be direct. Speak up about concerns instead of feeling exhausted and drained. Realize that the person you feel taken advantage of and not appreciated is happening because you’re not setting boundaries with difficult elderly parents. You’re doing this to yourself.

17:07 Pamela D. Wilson: Let’s look at scenario three. We know that manipulative elderly parents are skilled at making us feel guilty, when we can’t meet all the needs of our parents. This can divide families. Let’s say that your elderly parents live one hour away in a home that has become too much of a burden, and it’s no longer safe. The yard’s large. It needs mowing in the summer and shoveling in the winter. There are boxes of household memories in the basement from the floor to the ceiling. Your elderly parents have difficulty walking up and down the steps. They’ve fallen. You can’t spend increasing time taking care of the house and all of the tasks during the week because you work, and it’s a two-hour round trip. But yet your parents are expecting you to show up every weekend, and even sometimes during the week.

17:57 Pamela D. Wilson: This conversation sounds like this. “Mom or Dad, we want to help you. But we can’t commit to time during the week to drive to your house to help you. It’s a two-hour round trip. Why don’t you think about downsizing and moving closer to us? Having you near us will make it easier for us to help. We won’t have to drive two hours on the weekends and sometimes during the week. All that home maintenance that your house had; it’s not going to be an issue anymore.” Then let your elderly parents decide whether they are going to stay in their home or move closer to you. We all have choices, and elderly parents, when they expect us to provide care have choices to make.

18:39 Pamela D. Wilson: We are headed out to another break. You can listen to this show, and all of the past Caring Generation shows on my website at PamelaDWilson.com. You will also find my caregiving blog there, videos, and my caregiving library with lots of helpful articles and tips. Also, check out my caregiver support group on Facebook. It is called The Caregiving Trap. This is Pamela D. Wilson, your host. You’re listening live on the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. Stay with me. We’ll be right back after this break.

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21:21 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, I’m your host, you’re listening to The Caring Generation radio program for caregivers and aging adults coming to you live from the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. The Caring Generation is the place for tips about health, well-being, and caregiving. Let’s return to talking about setting boundaries with elderly parents, and combining ideas about staying healthy to avoid viruses and health issues like the coronavirus. Giving elderly parents choices is a balanced and neutral way of saying that you want to help. Like in the situation, we discussed for elderly parents who live at a distance. Moving closer to you may be the option for them to receive help. Scenario four, elderly parents who live alone, but near you. You’re doing all you can. You’re working full-time. Caring for your family, and spending about 20 hours a week during the evenings and the weekends helping parents. There’s no more give in your schedule.

22:21 Pamela D. Wilson: You can’t give up your job because your income supports your family. In this situation, you’re fulfilling the caregiving role and responsibility of caring for elderly parents. Setting boundaries with elderly parents in this situation sounds like this. “Mom and Dad, I’m doing everything I can, and it seems you need more help. We can hire in-home caregivers, or you can consider moving to a care community. Have you thought about options so that you can get more care today, and more care in the future?” The reality of care situations is that the health of elderly parents will eventually continue to advance, especially if multiple chronic diseases exist, and they are just ongoing. Scenario five. Let’s talk about how health discussions about care are a part of setting boundaries with elderly parents. I’ll also relate this to the coronavirus and why elderly adults are more susceptible. In one of the scenarios, we talked about elderly parents not being safe in their homes because of physical weakness and being a fall risk.

23:29 Pamela D. Wilson: There is a term called ADLs that you may have heard me talk about before. ADLs are activities of daily living, and they’re considered necessary survival skills. As we get older, these simple ADL tasks become more challenging to perform. Becoming unable to perform ADLs is the primary reason that elderly parents leave their homes to move to care communities or nursing homes to get more help, or the reason they bring in caregivers. Activities of daily living are things like bathing, dressing, eating, going to the bathroom, transfers, walking, sitting, standing, lying down, getting in and out of cars, going from place to place. There are also other activities called IADLs. Those are cooking, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping. Probably all the things that you are helping your elderly parents with today. Then on top of this, we add chronic diseases, the heart disease, COPD, arthritis, and others. Having one of those chronic diseases makes performing these daily activities more difficult, because physical activity of any type becomes difficult.

24:44 Pamela D. Wilson: Not doing a lot around the house results in fatigue. Elderly parents are tired all the time. Then low physical activity results in inability to walk. You don’t have any endurance. Elderly parents have poor balance. They start falling. Being physically active is a choice for all of us. Setting boundaries with difficult elderly parents about the importance of self-care sounds like this. “Mom, Dad, I hear you say that you don’t feel well, and you’re tired all the time. That must be horrible. I think it might be because you’re not physically active. I’m willing to help you, but you have to help me. Let’s go to the doctor. We can request a physical therapy evaluation so that you can start exercising. Then you’ll feel better. You’ll be able to do more for yourself.” Yes, that is a shocking conversation. The caregiver who is actually setting boundaries with difficult elderly parents by asking for help and you’re making a positive suggestion to support health and well-being, that your elderly parents may not appreciate. Big surprise.

25:51 Pamela D. Wilson: Here’s some research by Sara Higueras-Fresnillo.  It confirms the benefits of exercise interventions for the elderly—elderly who do walking and strength and training exercises. They have a 70% decrease in the likelihood of a fall. Fifty-four percent of them walk better. Eighty percent have improved balance, and 70% have an increase in muscle strength. So, it shows that improving these abilities on the part of elderly parents makes them more able to take care of themselves, and it actually may have a side benefit. It may reduce the amount of time you have to spend in caregiving activities at least today. Let’s talk about chronic disease for a moment, because that’s the complicating factor. They create the perfect storm of physical disability, which in older people can be called “failure to thrive” and “geriatric syndromes” that make it difficult for elderly parents to care for themselves. So, talking to elderly parents about their health, finding out what they know about it from their doctor. How it’s expected to progress. What type of medications they’re taking, all very important.

27:02 Pamela D. Wilson: Because the four main lifestyle risks for chronic disease are, anybody who smokes—tobacco use. Poor nutrition so fast foods, foods that are high in fat, sugar, salt, low in protein. Our elderly parents need a lot of protein. A lack of exercise and physical activity and anybody who drinks a lot. These lifestyle choices result in a diagnosis of high blood pressure like we talked and diabetes. You can also have high cholesterol or high triglycerides. All of these work together, and they just make us sick when we’re older. That’s why elderly parents are more susceptible to viruses like the coronavirus. Because they already have so much going on in their body, and their body is trying to work to fight all these chronic diseases that it just gets to be exhausting for them. So, adding one more thing on top of all of these health issues makes it very difficult for them to survive. And while it may be too late for elderly parents who have these chronic diseases, we can’t turn back the clock for them. But it’s not too late for us who are their caregivers.

28:08 Pamela D. Wilson: If we are more proactive and going to the doctor and getting vaccinations and doing all the preventative health measures that we are supposed to be doing, then we are less likely to acquire a chronic disease. So, we have choices. Isn’t it amazing how caring for our elderly parents helps us learn to care for ourselves better and to possibly avoid chronic diseases? More on the subject of setting boundaries with difficult elderly parents and talking about health after this break coming up. Please share The Caring Generation with your friends, your family members, co-workers, and the companies where you work, social groups at church, everywhere. One in four people you know are caregivers looking for hope, help, and support that is on The Caring Generation. I’m Pamela D. Wilson, your host. You’re listening to The Caring Generation live on the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. Stay with me. We’ll be right back.

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31:19 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson caregiving expert. I’m your host. You’re listening to The Caring Generation radio program for caregivers and aging adults coming to you live from the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. Follow me on social media on Facebook. My page is pameladwilson.page. On Twitter, I am caregivingspeak, on Instagram, I am Wilson Pamela D, and on LinkedIn, I am PamelaDWilsonCaregiverExpert. Let’s continue to talk about setting boundaries with elderly parents and dealing with some parents who are manipulative. Before the break, we were talking about why the elderly have greater difficulty with health issues like the coronavirus. Chronic diseases combined are why elderly parents don’t quickly recover from illness. Elderly bodies are already in a weakened state, trying to fight off things they already have, and the body can’t do more. Immune systems are weak, and our immune systems are the warriors within our bodies that fight off all these viruses and illnesses. The lesson in this for all of us is to look at the coronavirus as an opportunity to be more healthy. To stop chronic diseases and to become healthier. Then we won’t need more supplies to treat the virus. We can stop it by realizing that we have a personal responsibility to others through our behaviors, health habits, hygiene habits, and social distancing. Otherwise, we will create a continued need for more supplies to treat the virus.

32:48 Pamela D. Wilson: When we spread the virus, these actions are similar to the idea of setting out lounge chairs on the deck of the Titanic. How many of you remember the unsinkable Titanic? It was the most luxurious ocean liner in 1912. It sank in the early morning hours of April 15, 1912, and I bring this up because it’s almost April. [chuckle] It sank in the North Atlantic Ocean four days into the ship’s first voyage from Southampton, England to New York City. Two thousand, two hundred twenty-four people on board. Fifteen hundred passengers drowned, sunk by an iceberg. For those of you who are too young to remember the story, Google the movie The Titanic. It was with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. You’ll understand the idea about putting out more deck chairs. Scenario six for setting boundaries with elderly parents is managing relationships with elderly parents. Relationships go both ways. Elderly parents tell me that their children treat them like children, and adult children tell me that their elderly parents talk to them like children. Setting boundaries with elderly parents is a two-way relationship.

33:55 Pamela D. Wilson: For elderly parents and adult children who are caregivers, respect must go both ways if that caregiving relationship is to succeed. Honestly, we’re all adults and at the point where we shouldn’t be arguing, pushing guilt on others, being manipulative or demanding. It’s all an unproductive negative waste of time. These behaviors, though, may stem from relationships during childhood and undiagnosed personality disorders. We talked about this a couple of weeks ago on The Caring Generation show called My Mom is Crazy, and sometimes these relationships just are from built-up resentment from the idea of needing care or the caregiver feeling burdened about being a caregiver. Not many adult children expect to be caregivers for elderly parents, and on the other side, elderly parents don’t want any care or be dependent on adult children. But they don’t know what to do to stop this from happening. Elderly parents, as we talked, they become physically weak because they don’t exercise. They are diagnosed with multiple chronic diseases, and that is why they need caregivers.

35:04 Pamela D. Wilson: Staying healthy in old age takes a bit of work. In setting boundaries with elderly parents once we agree that the situation isn’t ideal, we can move forward to set ground rules. In these ground rules, we agree to enter into dual respect, dual responsibility. No blame, no guilt, a nice, healthy neutral zone. That means that personal opinions without facts and disagreements for the sake of being disagreeable are not allowed. They’re off the table. We have to seek an emotional balance that we can continue to function with a sense of well-being. Because when we lose our emotional stability, that’s when we become negative and judgmental. We don’t get along with our parents. In caregiving situations that are already emotional, setting boundaries with elderly parents and ourselves as the caregiver is essential. The more we allow ourselves to respond to arguments, the less likely that situations will remain positive. Then we might start judging ourselves and our elderly parents and others. To manage these caregiving situations, we have to regulate our mood and our behaviors. We don’t want to lose patience with other people. The situation is already difficult enough.

36:19 Pamela D. Wilson: The way that you can gain a better perspective is to join a caregiving support group—either online or in person. There you can vent your frustrations. Vent your anger. Because that is what caregivers feel safe doing in groups. And even better, feelings expressed in caregiving support groups stay in the groups. I have heard so many caregivers say that they hate the person for whom they care for, they wish an elderly parent was dead; they regret getting married. All of these in a group is okay because this is how caregivers feel. These scenarios are the reality of being a caregiver in situations where they haven’t learned to set boundaries with elderly parents, or where caring for a spouse is just plain overwhelming. You can also join my Facebook group for caregivers. It’s called The Caregiving Trap. Let’s talk about being an overburdened caregiver, which is scenario seven. Caregivers take on so much work that eventually, the caregiver burns out, and they can’t do anymore. That taking on too much work is partly cultural. “This is what I do. I can’t refuse; it’s my responsibility.”

37:28 Pamela D. Wilson: In some scenarios, though, the caregivers have been too helpful. So, they’ve made it too easy on elderly parents who then have become more dependent on the caregiver. An example is an elderly parent who refuses to allow paid in-home caregivers because mom or dad thinks that the daughter should be doing all the work. That is an unrealistic and actually potentially harmful thought process to not only the parents’ health but the well-being of the caregiver. Do parents really think that a resentful and angry daughter or son will provide good care? Probably not. So that caregiver burnout, that frustration, that anger, it is the change agent for setting boundaries with elderly parents. We have to talk about situations. We have to talk about how to change them. How to get additional care into the household, if we’re going to be able to continue being that caregiver.

38:21 Pamela D. Wilson: We will continue talk about caring for parents scenarios after this break. coming up. Helpful tips for caregivers and aging adults about health, well-being, and caregiving are on my website at PamelaDWilson.com. Where you will also find the podcast of this and all of The Caring Generation radio shows. Please do share the information. One in four people you know are caregivers looking for hope, help, and support. This is Pamela D. Wilson caregiving expert. I’m your host. You’re listening to The Caring Generation live from the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. Stay with me. We’ll be right back.

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41:17 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, this is The Caring Generation coming to you live from the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. We are back with scenario number eight. Elderly parents refusing to allow adult children to hire in-home caregivers. We have two scenarios. One, where the elderly parent lives alone, and the other scenario where the elderly parent lives in the home of the adult children. Can you imagine your parents telling you that you can’t hire caregivers when they are living in your own home? It happens. Especially when adult children are burned out, and they can’t do more. Children are concerned about caring for elderly parents and working and taking care of their own children and taking care of their health. These situations usually come to a breaking point. Sometimes the elderly parent remains manipulative and refuses to compromise. The alternatives are that in-home caregivers must be hired, or the parent living alone goes without help, or an elderly parent living in the home of adult children moves out of the home to a care community.

42:26 Pamela D. Wilson: This caregiving situation can be a dead end. Physical and emotional health issues leave no more room for flexibility on the part of the caregiver who has honestly given up his or her life to care for an elderly parent. Not to mention the issues caregiving has caused within the family. Setting boundaries with manipulative elderly parents do come to the point where the caregiver has to choose to save him or herself or help the elderly parent. At this point, there really shouldn’t be any guilt. Many of the caregivers I talk to have devoted hours of time and years to care for elderly parents. It’s time for the caregiver to reclaim his or her life and focus on his or her needs, which is well-deserved. Setting boundaries with elderly parents can result in emotional relief from situations that became a caregiving trap. Elderly parents are adults. They have the right to make choices. Even what might be bad choices to us as caregivers. Who knows? If you refuse to provide care, your elderly parent may all of a sudden be able to do more things for him or herself. Which leads us to the next scenario, denial about health issues.

43:41 Pamela D. Wilson: Denial in a care situation is where you’ve got brothers and sisters, and they are not noticing that elderly parents need care or your elderly parent is denying that they need help even when they’ve had heart attacks and things like strokes. Children are worried about providing more care, and the elderly parent doesn’t want to admit that anything is wrong. So, you’ve got these opposite opinions going on, and children are throwing their hands up in the air saying, “What are we going to do when something happens, you don’t want to admit that you’re sick?” So, setting boundaries with elderly parents in these situation sounds like, “Mom or Dad, when you have a stroke, what is your plan to receive care? Because I can’t swoop in and save you. We have talked about this so many times, and it seems like you are choosing to ignore health recommendations. You don’t want to plan for care. Something’s going to happen sooner or later. And so, it’s better that we talk about it now. Because when that crash happens, I may not be able to show up.”

44:41 Pamela D. Wilson: These are difficult situations that a lot of caregivers face, and none are easy. Which is why self-care is so important for caregivers. Which leads to scenario nine. Setting boundaries with elderly parents is what to do when you are a caregiver for an intensely ill elderly parent? Maybe you have a parent who’s a quadriplegic, and they need total care or an elderly parent with advanced Alzheimer’s. Maybe cancer or another condition where you are barely able to provide all the care that they need. That’s another one of those setting boundaries with elderly parents where you have to save yourself so that you can protect the care of your elderly parent. Being exhausted, burned out, coping to get through the day—that’s not letting you provide the care that your elderly parent needs. You may be doing the bare minimum.

45:33 Pamela D. Wilson: Be kind to yourself. Seek help. Seek other options to find care for an elderly parent, whether it’s in a care community or maybe they move to your brother or sister’s house. Giving up those caregiving duties will allow you to return to being a son or daughter. Not the person who has to provide that 24/7 care. And if you have brothers and sisters, maybe talk to them about being a caregiver as a personal responsibility These are challenging situations. And if you’re the primary caregiver and other family members weren’t helping out, they probably don’t really realize what that situation is like, and they don’t understand why you can’t be the caregiver anymore. So maybe it turns into a situation where they’re blaming you, and they’re angry, and everything is kind of just crazy. But the bottom line is, your mom or dad needs care, extensive medical, and hands-on care. It’s not a situation where anybody can refuse to agree that parents need care. So, work with doctors, work with other medical providers, tour assisted living communities. Find the best possible situation for elderly parents, so that you do feel like you’re doing the right thing.

46:45 Pamela D. Wilson: And if all of a sudden, your brothers and sisters want to swoop in and take over, by all means, let them. Let them understand what you have done for your elderly parents all these years. Let them spend a week at the house without you being there. Doing the right thing for you as the caregiver includes setting boundaries with your brothers and sisters, that unless they can take over the care, you have to do the right thing for mom or dad. Let’s take a step backward to care scenarios that are less stressful, not life-threatening. We talked earlier about giving elderly parents choices about in-home care or moving to a care community. As you know, most parents don’t want to leave their homes. Talking to mom or dad about a care community when they’re still independent, when they don’t need care, may give you a heads up about their expectations about what you will do as a caregiver. This is where setting boundaries with elderly parents long in advance of increasing care needs can be really helpful. If you realize that being a caregiver will present a burden on you and your family, have this conversation early.

47:54 Pamela D. Wilson: Setting boundaries with elderly parents about a future inability to provide care, helps set boundaries, and lets your parents know that you may not be available. That helps elderly parents and yourself investigate care options and costs. We will continue to talk about this scenario and scenario ten after the break coming up. Podcasts of The Caring Generation are available on all your favorite sites, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts. Put a podcast on the phone of your elderly parent and let them listen to the show. Let me talk about caregiving situations for you. Tips and support for caregivers are also on my website at PamelaDWilson.com. This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m your host, you’re listening to The Caring Generation live on the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. Stay with me. We’ll be right back.

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51:03 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, I’m your host, this is The Caring Generation radio program for caregivers and aging adults live on the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. Let’s talk about Scenario ten. Introducing the idea of helping elderly parents who don’t yet need care so that we can investigate care options and costs, to minimize the effect that caregiving will have on your life. Investigating options is most effective when you do it before elderly parents need care. There’s less emotional discussion. There’s more factual discussion. You can provide elderly parents with brochures about in-home care agencies, assisted living communities, and you can talk about what care costs. Depending on your family situation and your culture, you may have parents who expect that regardless of the situation, you will be the caregiver. If this is the situation and you feel differently, speak up now before caregiving needs happen.

52:12 Pamela D. Wilson: Elderly parents may try to make you feel guilty, but you have the right to make your family be the first priority, which may be an uncomfortable discussion if you were raised with the idea that caregiving is your responsibility. Honestly, there are times when being a caregiver for an elderly parent isn’t practical or possible–whether this is before caregiving starts, in the middle, or at the end. Putting your needs first in any stage of caregiving is okay. Because caregivers who focus entirely on doing and doing are doing, those are the caregivers who become burned out. Any time we say, “No,” it’s easy to feel guilty or selfish, but sometimes you have to do that. Any caregiver who has been in this situation, if you are in a support group, they will be brutally honest with you out of a desire to save you from the experience that they have had. I know this because I listen to so many caregivers trying to help others.

53:14 Pamela D. Wilson: If you haven’t yet experienced caregiving stress, it links to health issues. It links to chronic disease. Helping caregivers to avoid unexpected experiences is why I became a caregiving advocate more than 20 years ago. Beyond my personal account of the health issues of my elderly parents, another 20 years as a professional gave me a lot of wonderful experiences. Anything that you know is helpful to other caregivers, and a lot of caregivers don’t realize that. No matter how difficult the situation, many caregivers wouldn’t change it. But it’s kind of like, once someone is a caregiver, they want to be able to help other people avoid the things that they have gone through. So, sometimes caregivers can be on autopilot. They do what needs to be done, and then some days they feel like they’re just, have to collapse. They’re exhausted, and they can’t keep going. Many caregivers gain strength. They gain confidence through caregiving situations. Others feel good about helping other caregivers. So, do join a support group, whether it’s online, in person. Some churches have support groups.

54:26 Pamela D. Wilson: There are support groups at a lot of the disease-specific organizations. Get out there and be with other caregivers, so that you feel good about doing what you’re doing. Caregivers, listeners, you are amazing people. You are caring, loving. The work that you’re doing now, especially during this virus situation, is so valuable, and we are so thankful to all of the healthcare workers out there who are really putting themselves out there in harm’s way trying to help other people. Family caregivers, your help is important to your mom or dad. Thank you so much for being here with me and being proactive and interested in caregiving, aging, health, and well-being. Do share The Caring Generation with your family, your friends, social groups, the workplace, so that we can make caregiving something that we talk about. All of the podcasts of the shows are on my website at PamelaDWilson.com, and your favorite sites, Apple, Google, Spreaker, Stitcher, and others.

55:26 Pamela D. Wilson: Thank you so much for joining me on The Caring Generation radio program for caregivers and aging adults coming to you live from the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. I am Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, advocate, and speaker, join me on The Caring Generation next Wednesday evening, invite your family and friends to join us. God bless you all, sleep well tonight, have a fabulous day tomorrow, and a healthy week until we are together again.

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55:54 Announcer: Tune in each week for the caring generation with host Pamela D. Wilson. Come join the conversation and see how Pamela can provide solutions and peace of mind for everyone here on Pamela D. Wilson’s The Caring Generation.

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Looking For More Help Managing Care for Yourself or Elderly Parents? You’ll Find What You Are Looking For in The Caring Generation® Library in the Section Called Family Relationships and Conflict.

 

About Pamela Wilson

PAMELA D. WILSON, MS, BS/BA, NCG, CSA helps caregivers and aging adults solve caregiving problems and manage caregiving needs through online programs, live support groups, and an extensive caregiving library that includes articles, podcasts, videos, and webinars.

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