When You Can No Longer Care for Elderly Parents-The Caring Generation®
The Caring Generation® – Episode 93 July 7, 2021. On this caregiving program, expert Pamela D Wilson shares tips for being compassionate and making caregiving decisions for When You Can No Longer Care for Elderly Parents. Guest Dr. Ingrid Bacon shares research and offers advice about aspects of family caregiving relationships that can be harmful to caregivers who do too much.
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When You Can No Longer Care for Elderly Parents
0:00:04.0 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’re 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.
Watch More Videos about Caregiving and Aging on Pamela’s YouTube Channel
0:00:37:48 Pamela D Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, speaker, consultant, and guardian of The Caring Generation. The Caring Generation focuses on the conversation of caring, giving us permission to talk about aging, the challenges of caregiving, and everything in between. It’s no surprise that needing care or becoming a caregiver changes everything. The Caring Generation is here to guide you along the journey to let you know that you’re not alone.
0:0:1:03:23 Pamela D Wilson: You’re in exactly the right place to share stories, learn tips and resources to help you and your loved ones plan for what’s ahead. Invite your aging parents, spouses, family, and friends to listen to the show each week. This week our conversation offers insights into what to do when you can no longer care for elderly parents. Many adult children arrive at the point of caregiver burnout, exhaustion, giving up their lives to care for a parent or parents to the exclusion of everything else in their lives.
0:01:40:84 Pamela D Wilson: Some adult children sacrifice their careers and income. What happens to these caregivers when they retire? Who will care for them with such selfless dedication? Anyone? Other family caregivers sacrifice their marriages, friendships, and their health. Yet, some cultures believe that this is how it should be with children—primarily daughters—dedicating their entire lives to care for aging parents. How do you think this should work?
0:02:14:56 Pamela D Wilson: Should adult children be expected to give up their lives, well-being, family and personal relationships, health, and more to care for elderly parents? If you are feeling stuck and thinking that the time has come when you can no longer care for elderly parents, I’ll share seven steps to get you on the way to your future and regain your life while making this announcement within your family and to your parents.
0:02:42:80 Pamela D Wilson: To help us better understand this topic, the guest for this program is Dr. Ingrid Bacon, who joins us to talk about co-dependent relationships. Co-dependent relationships are common in caregiving relationships and relationships where addiction is an issue. Can we be addicted to caregiving? These relationships can be circular with the caretaker—who wants to be helpful—enabling the behaviors and actions of the care receiver NOT to take care of him or herself.
0:03:16:15 Pamela D Wilson: The caregiver seeks to make life easier or less complicated for everyone but the caregiver. The downside is that the assistance provided makes life more difficult for the caretaker, who attempts to please mom or dad by doing more and more. The caregiver’s actions eventually turn into thoughts of I can’t do this anymore, but the caregiver isn’t sure how to reverse or turn around the situation.
0:03:43:04 Pamela D Wilson: Dr. Ingrid Bacon is a mental health therapist, researcher, and educator with more than 20 years of experience working in mental health practice in the UK, South Africa, and South America. Ingrid is a Senior Lecturer in Mental Health at Kingston and St George’s University of London and a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. She is a member of the Royal College of Occupational Therapy, British Psychological Society, and the International Society of Schema Therapy.
0:04:18:31 Pamela D Wilson: Are you reaching a point where you can no longer care for elderly parents, but you feel guilty or worried about expressing your concerns? Are you hesitating because you are exhausted and unsure about how to move forward? If you think this way, you’re not alone. Many caregivers give and give and give, and then one day, whether it’s weeks, months, or years from today, realize they don’t know who they are outside of the responsibilities and work of being a caregiver.
0:04:50:82 Pamela D Wilson: If you listened to the show called Caring for Dad and my interview with Dr. Monika Lopez-Anuarbe. In that case, you might have learned that family relationships and culture significantly affect how families view caregiving responsibilities. If you missed the show, you can find it on your favorite podcast and music apps. Search for The Caring Generation and then Caring for Dad.
0:05:15:15 Pamela D Wilson: I’ll also place a link to the show, Caring for Dad in the transcript for this show that you can find and read on my website at pameladwilson.com. Click on the Media tab and then Caring Generation. There are over 90 podcasts answering questions that I receive from listeners and caregivers in my Facebook group – The Caregiving Trap. You can share caregiving questions and show topics you’d like to hear with me by completing the caregiver survey also on my website PamelaDWilson.com.
0:05:45:15 Pamela D Wilson: Click on Contact Me and then Caregiver Survey. I’m here for you. Let’s start with the basics of when you can no longer care for elderly parents. If I could wave a magic wand, the advancing needs of elderly parents would be discussed early and often within families. This idea is challenging because elderly parents and children rarely plan for health issues to occur, along with talking about the associated need for support within the family.
0:06:16:49 Pamela D Wilson: In working with parents, many say to me, “oh, Pamela, my kids will take care of me.” My response is always the same question, “Have you asked them? Have you talked about caregiving?” Their response is usually no. Assuming that children will care for their parents or that parents will never get sick or need care are faulty beliefs that lead to stress and family conflict.
0:06:41:90 Pamela D Wilson: The way to avoid unnecessary stress about who will be the caregiver is to talk within the family when parents are beginning to slow down and need a little bit of help. Through the eldercare consultations I offer by telephone or virtual appointments, I help families initiate caregiving conversations and discuss all of the considerations so that you are prepared for when NOT IF elderly parents need care.
0:07:10:25 Pamela D Wilson: Regrettably, most families don’t have early conversations—or sometimes any conversations. This results in caregivers going to the extreme of being burned out, exhausted, feeling unappreciated, frustrated, and angry. These feelings are valid when caregivers feel that they’ve lost their identity, who they are, and struggle to re-balance relationships with parents. If you’re at the point where you can no longer care for elderly parents, let’s talk about the path forward.
0:07:45:18 Pamela D Wilson: The first step is to decide and commit to changing the situation mentally—in your mind. Until you can arrive at making this decision and doing something about it, you will probably continue to feel that life is out of your control. You may feel a bit wishy-washy. Going back and forth between thinking it’s not that bad. I can hang in there—to days when you’d like to run away, to disappear, and never return. Many caregivers feel this way.
0:08:19:95 Pamela D Wilson: The decision to change involves several steps, called the stages of change that begin with pre-contemplation or starting to think about change and the contemplation, which is seriously considering and making a commitment to change. Then, preparing for the change. Preparation might include researching information, talking with others in a similar situation, or consulting a caregiving expert. Next is putting the plan in place to take action.
0:08:55:67 Pamela D Wilson: Once you have identified the plan, then there’s is the idea of maintaining regular habits—being persistent to keep up with the path forward. Sometimes this means taking a few steps backward or running into an unexpected roadblock but quickly returning to consistent behaviors. The stages of change—if you’re not familiar with them—were discussed in my interview with Dr. Valerie Worthington on the podcast called Caring for Aging Parents—A Checklist.
0:09:29:30 Pamela D Wilson: If you are struggling with the idea and the process of making change anywhere in your life, this interview may offer some great tips to move forward. As you work to think about and initiate change, it’s vital to gain insight and admit to your participation in becoming an overcommitted caregiver. It’s often not until later in caregiving relationships that caregivers look back and think about things they might have done differently.
0:09:59:12 Pamela D Wilson: The more helpful you are—especially if parents can still do things for themselves—the more likely this “taking over because it’s easier or faster for you to do things” makes elderly parents more dependent on you. This self-created situation of dependence results in caregivers’ decisions and plans for when you can no longer care for elderly parents because there’s some point where you realize you can’t live like this anymore. More on when you can no longer care for elderly parents after this break.
0:10:39:77 Pamela D Wilson: If this is the first time you are joining the show, welcome. Thanks for being here. I know your time is precious! The Caring Generation is not limited by time zone or location—caregivers worldwide can listen any time of day. The show and the transcript that you can read to find links to research and other helpful information are on my website at pameladwilson.com. Click on the Media Tab and then The Caring Generation. This is Pamela Wilson, caregiving expert, author, and speaker on The Caring Generation. Stay with me; I’ll be right back.
0:11:41:34 Pamela D Wilson: This is Pamela D Wilson, caregiving expert, consultant, and speaker on The Caring Generation. Welcome back. Helpful information for caregivers and aging adults are in my book: The Caregiving Trap: Solutions for Life’s Unexpected Changes, available on my website www.PamelaDWilson.com where you can check out my caregiver course online, Taking Care of Elderly Parents: Stay at Home and Beyond,
0:12:15:97 Pamela D Wilson: with 30 hours of webinars and other information featuring practical steps for how to take care of elderly parents and make a plan for aging and health. It’s never too early to make a plan to live the best life possible in your later years.
0:12:22:50 Pamela D Wilson: Let’s return to talking about step number two for when you can no longer care for elderly parents. In the first part of the program, we spoke of first deciding that something has to change. Step number two is to create a family care plan to present and discuss with your parents and the family. Putting together a family care plan when you can no longer care for elderly parents poses several considerations.
0:12:47:99 Pamela D Wilson: First, even though you may be stressed and burned out, do your best to think about the opposite perspective of how you would like to be approached if you were the parent and your children were the burned-out caregivers hesitant to talk to you. Then ask yourself, if you were in this situation, what worries might you have? How might you feel—afraid, rejected, unloved, disrespected, abandoned, or angry if your children or someone else approached you saying that they can no longer offer help or support?
0:13:29:16 Pamela D Wilson: Would you be understanding and open to hearing concerns and solutions? Recognize that each person is different. Not everyone thinks, reacts, or feels the same way. Perceptions and reactions to life’s challenges are based on individual experiences—our life experiences and the experiences of elderly parents. For this reason, the steps to creating a care plan to discuss with family benefits from step number three, which is being open to learning.
0:14:05:84 Pamela D Wilson: Being open to learning and admitting that you don’t have all of the answers can help you arrive at a better plan than if you allow anger or frustration to interrupt this exploratory process to learn all that you can about care options when you get to the point when can no longer care for elderly parents. You are not abandoning an elderly parent—like you might think.
0:14:31:31 Pamela D Wilson: You will be offering options for your parents to receive care in other ways that don’t involve a total lifestyle and time commitment from you anymore. Think back to any situation in your life where you felt rejected and how you responded. Remembering rejection may have been not getting the boy or girl of your dreams even though you eventually found and married the perfect person. Rejection may be not getting a job that you wanted that eventually turned out for the best
0:15:07:19 Pamela D Wilson: Responding positively to rejection can take a level of learned resiliency—that’s the ability to bounce back from adversity. Being resilient—becoming resilient is a skill that is beneficial in all roles and walks of life. If we are honest, we don’t always get what we want. What choices do you make when you experience rejection or don’t get what you want? What choices did your parents make, or did your parents model for you when they were rejected or didn’t get what they wanted?
0:15:44:46 Pamela D Wilson: Do you dust yourself off, get up, and start over again or dwell in anger and allow situations to control your life? On the subject of becoming resilient, you can take the step to connect with empathetic and understanding people who can remind you that you’re not alone—even with all of the difficulties you may be facing. Joining a caregiver support group—like my Facebook group The Caregiving Trap— taking an online or in-person caregiver class or consulting a caregiving expert like myself can help you regain confidence in your abilities and re-build self-esteem.
0:16:25:93 Pamela D Wilson: I know you’re too busy to attend to your needs—right? Your parents who depend on you are prioritizing their needs—not yours. Your brothers and sisters who offer to help but don’t show up or rarely show up—prioritize their needs. Who but you, through your ongoing caregiving activities, confirm that your needs are at the bottom of the priority pile? No one but you can make your life and your needs a priority.
0:17:00:03 Pamela D Wilson: When you can no longer care for elderly parents, it’s up to you, to begin with, steps 1, 2, 3. Decide and create a family care plan as you become open to learning, researching options, and becoming resilient. By taking these actions, you are about to change your life and move forward toward making your needs and goals a reality. Is it scary? Yes—it might be. Moving forward depends on your life experience and the level of your motivation to create change.
0:17:31:19 Pamela D Wilson: Gaining confidence supports increasing competence, connecting with others in similar situations, redefining your identity, contributing to the care of elderly parents while not being the person who does it all anymore, and learning to cope and regain control of your life. Think about this. The fears that you experience creating this change and sharing it with your elderly parents will create fears for your elderly parents about the changes they will experience as you balance your needs with theirs.
0:18:08:75 Pamela D Wilson: Be honest and transparent. Few people like change. The entire family may experience change and may be uncomfortable. Number 4 for when you can no longer care for elderly parents is to be transparent as you research information and schedule time to present the information to parents and family members. It’s okay and is a good idea to be transparent by mentioning to your parents and siblings that you are researching care options to discuss because you are stretched to the limit of what you feel you can do.
0:18:45:27 Pamela D Wilson: One way to approach this conversation positively is to mention that you don’t feel that you are doing a good job because of the amount or type of tasks that continue to grow. Rather than have your parents’ needs not met or feeling that you might be neglectful, you’re interested to see what other options exist.
0:19:07:49 Pamela D Wilson: When you begin this conversation, talk positively and confidently about the future. Focus on possible change, being positive for your parents to get the care they need. Realize, though, that your parents and siblings may resist your actions to change the situation. This is normal. They may verbalize resistance or concerns. In this way, they are communicating their fears.
0:98:37:77 Pamela D Wilson: Be honest and say that you have similar concerns and fear about making changes, but that fear isn’t going to stop you from making sure your parents have other care options. You may be surprised that siblings begin to take a more active interest in the care of your parents when you make your intentions known. On the other hand, be prepared for the opposite. Siblings or other family members may still not step up to offer assistance.
0:20:05:64 Pamela D Wilson: Don’t expect others to become involved as a result of your efforts to change. When you have done sufficient research and obtained the advice of others, set a realistic timeline for you to implement the changes knowing that even if elderly parents or siblings disagree to participate, you will move ahead. In all care situations, elderly parents can refuse to accept help. You’ve probably seen this already. Each person has the right to make decisions and be faced with the consequences of their actions.
0:20:39:65 Pamela D Wilson: When you can no longer care for elderly parents, it’s equally crucial for you as the caregiver to be at peace with the consequences of your actions. If you have dedicated 2, 5, 10, or 20 years to the care of your parents, and you decide it’s time to take responsibility and move on with your life, acknowledge the differences you made. Your actions and ongoing contributions gave your parents more years of living in their home and better quality of life than they would have experienced without your participation.
0:21:15:92 Pamela D Wilson: We’re about to take another break. This is Pamela D Wilson, caregiving expert, speaker, and eldercare consultant with you on The Caring Generation. We will continue the conversation of when you can no longer care for elderly parents after our upcoming interview with Dr. Ingrid Bacon, who discusses family caregiving relationships and the idea of co-dependency. If you are looking for help with decision-making about care for elderly parents or making a care plan for yourself, I can help. Visit my website PamelaDWilson.com to schedule an eldercare consultation. Click on How I Help, then Family Caregivers, and then Elder Care Consultation. Stay with me. I’ll be right back.
0:22:02:66 Pamela D Wilson: This is Pamela D Wilson, caregiving speaker, expert, and advocate on The Caring Generation program for caregivers and adults. Whether you are twenty or 100 years old, you’re in exactly the right place to learn tips to help you and your loved ones plan for what’s ahead. If you’re not sure how to talk to your children about caregiving issues or if you’re an adult child and you’ve tried to talk to your aging parents. Let me start the conversation for you.
0:22:56:28 Pamela D Wilson: Introduce your parents, siblings, friends, and family to my YouTube Channel, featuring hundreds of caregiver videos. Share this podcast and my website with elderly parents, spouses, and siblings to make caregiving something we talk about. It’s time to talk about caregiving relationships that can be challenging when boundaries become blurred, and caregivers lose their sense of self. I’d like you to meet Dr. Ingrid Bacon, a mental health therapist, researcher, and educator at Kingston and St. George’s University of London.
0:23:32:45 Pamela D Wilson: Dr. Bacon, thank you so much for joining me today.
0:23:35:52 Dr. Ingrid Bacon: It’s my pleasure, Pamela, to be here and to join you.
0:23:39:36 Pamela D Wilson: You have extensive experience. Based on your research, what is your understanding of co-dependency?
0:23:46:98 Dr. Ingrid Bacon: So co-dependency. It’s a chameleon concept and is a concept that has been used widely in mental health care practice. Especially in the field of addictions. It’s a useful concept to label emotional pain and relational difficulties experienced by people. And as I said, it has been explored in mental health practice, in self-help books, literature, and by researchers across the world in different cultures.
0:24:20:51 Dr. Ingrid Bacon: Despite of it’s use, you know it’s been used a lot for many years, there is still much confusion and misunderstanding about co-dependency. The concept is not clearly defined or understood. So there is no agreed definition. There is no good diagnostic criteria for co-dependency. Having said that, um, there are people who identify with co-dependency. Who find it useful to describe some of their life experiences. So my research was a qualitative analysis of the lived experience of co-dependency portrayed by self-identified co-dependents.
0:25:07:73 Dr. Ingrid Bacon: And the findings of the research reviewed that self-identified co-dependents, they experience an undefined sense of self. So they look for external frameworks to obtain self-definition. So the research, the analysis of the interviews found that co-dependents behave like chameleons. So their lack of clear sense of self drives them to over adapt or to adapt excessively to the needs of others. Even in detriment to their own needs. So the participants experienced what I called an injury pattern of extreme emotional, relational, and occupational imbalance.
0:25:56:81 Dr. Ingrid Bacon: And they linked these problems to formative childhood experiences. What was good was that they used a number of avenues to recover and to seek help from, for these issues—for these factors. So they looked for therapists. They looked for recovery groups for co-dependency to obtain more self-definition. To obtain a framework for their lives and this help. the group, the therapy, the self-help literature actually helped them to meet some of their needs for growth, for self-development, for validation, for safety, and for belonging.
0:26:43:53 Pamela D Wilson: Can you explain how factors associated with the concept of co-dependency might look like within the framework of family caregiving?
0:26:53:81 Dr. Ingrid Bacon: Yes, in the framework of caregiving, family caregiving, we find exactly this occupational, emotional, and relational imbalance. We see that often, not always the case, but often there is a tendency for the caregiver to excessively meet the needs of others—to their loved ones, to the expense of their own needs. So we find an over adaptation to the needs of others, and this is taken to an extreme. And because of that, we see self-sacrifice behaviors. We see suppression of needs. We see suppression of emotions.
0:26:53:81 Dr. Ingrid Bacon: And that is sometimes the case because the caregiver may feel that sense of guilt for expressing needs.. For looking after self. They may feel that they are not caring enough—or they are not caring well enough. Or they may fear that they are not caring well enough for their loved ones. But as a result of that—of all these factors combined, there is often, we find often dynamics of interpersonal control. Conflict which is detrimental to the whole process. This is not always the case. Of course, we don’t find it in all situations. But we do find it quite often.
0:28:26:51 Pamela D Wilson: Is it possible that such factors originate in the family of origin. So based on your research findings, can you give some examples of family environments which foster these situations?
0:28:40:16 Dr. Ingrid Bacon: Yes, um. So the participants of my research they—they talked a lot about this in their interviews, and um, they identified that the root for some of these factors were in their formative years. In their childhood. So, they spoke about being raised in environments where some of their basic needs for safety, for stability, for nurturing, for acceptance. Some of these basic needs were not adequately met.
0:29:17:85 Dr. Ingrid Bacon: So we know that the family or origin should provide a holding environment. An environment of unconditional acceptance, of nurturing, of limits, of boundaries. And we know that the family of origin is a primary source to meet these needs and should do that during the formative years of the child. But, unfortunately, we see that this is not always the case. Some families are unable to provide for these needs due to a number of cases, a number of situations. Finances, illnesss in the family, or the experiences of the parents. You know their own lived experience.
0:30:05:96 Dr. Ingrid Bacon: So we are not here intentionally blaming families for failing to provide for the needs of the child because we understand that many parents have problems that they face. Problems of their own. And they try hard and attempt to do a good job, but sometimes, you know, life happens. Life is difficult. They may lack the skills the education. They may lack the awareness. They may lack the support, the financial support, the help to appropriately meet the needs of the child. So, in this case, we see some of these factors developing from an early age in families.
0:30:49:83 Pamela D Wilson: It seems like from what you’re saying, some of these factors can carry down from parents to children and from generation to generation. I talk to some caregivers who are trying to help their parents or someone else. And this person is not wanting to help themselves. And these caregivers, they get very frustrated because they want to fix this problem. What advice would you give to these caregivers who feel hopeless or helpless that they can’t fix it.
0:31:19:11 Dr. Ingrid Bacon: Yes, yes, I mean it’s very common that we see this generational situation. And that’s why programs like yours, you know, talks like we are doing at the moment, is so helpful and useful. Because we only need one person to break that pattern. You know you just need one parent to break that pattern. To do it differently so that the following generations will not keep repeating it. Um, so, it’s very normal, I think to feel powerless and to feel frustrated when you’re trying to help people to change behavior.
0:32:03:46 Dr. Ingrid Bacon: I certainly experience that in my practice as a therapist. We—and even with our loved ones and, so but we need to understand that change is individual and change is a process. And it’s a process that takes time. And you know, because it’s such an individual unique experience, we may find ourselves at different stages in the change. In the circle of change. In the cycle of change. In the process of change. So it is important that when we are trying to help other people that we understand where we are in that stage of change and where the person is at as well.
0:32:59:05 Dr. Ingrid Bacon: Where the person that we are trying to help is. Because, for example, if we may see that this person has a problem and we may see that the problem is very evident. Very clear in front of us. But if the person that we are trying to help is at a stage of, we call it pre-contemplation or only beginning to contemplate the problem or the need for change, our attempts to make them take significant action steps may only cause conflict, frustration, problems. Because there is a discrepancy between where we think the person should be and where the person actually is. So a lot of it—it’s about learning to manage ourselves.
0:33:45:28 Dr. Ingrid Bacon: And to understand ourselves and to understand the other person. So by managing ourselves and understanding this process of change, these stages of change, we then can convey our helping energy, this energy, to—in the right place. We can convey it, and we can send it in the right direction. Helping the person to move perhaps one step each time from where they are. From that stage to another in that journey of change. So understanding that change is a process helps. And managing ourselves and our expectations and adjusting the focus that we are placing on that change through small steps of change rather than trying to fix the whole problem all at once. All at one time, which sometimes, in most cases, is not feasible.
0:34:48:74 Pamela D Wilson: I have a lot of caregivers that I talk to who give up their careers, their social lives, their friendships, and they feel like they sacrifice a lot to care for parents. There may be some caregivers listening who are thinking, am I, have I gone too far? Have I crossed some boundaries here? How, how do we know that? How do we know that? How do we know if we’ve done that?
0:35:09:21 Dr. Ingrid Bacon: Yes, it’s a difficult question. [chuckle] and it comes a lot from understanding yourself and learning about yourself. In life, we have many roles. We occupy many roles. A mother, a father, a teacher. You know you have a different range of roles. We perform them. Roles are what we do—it’s what we perform. So we are one person exercising, operating different roles. So roles are an extension of us. And when we are caregiving, when we are looking after parents, children sometimes we get so immersed and adapt to that role that we become just that role. We lose ourselves in that role.
0:36:12:71 Dr. Ingrid Bacon: To the detriment of other roles. So we stop exercising, we stop living other roles, and we become almost imprisoned in one role. And we become so entangled sometimes in this excessive doing. In this excessive caring and many to a point of burnout. So it is about understanding what are your roles in life and what are your different roles that you exercise. And how much of yourself are you putting into these different roles? And how much this particular role is taking from you.
0:36:55:30 Dr. Ingrid Bacon: Now we know that caregiving can be stressful. Hard, very demanding, consuming a lot of our energy. And we know that when we are under a lot of stress, we respond according to the flight, fight and freeze reactions. So it’s a primary reaction. We know that biologically that’s what happens with us. So you need to understand what are your flight, fight, and freeze responses. So, for example, some of us, when we are under prolonged stress or if we are under a lot of stress we overcompensate by going further into our flighting mode. So we are doing more and more.
0:37:41:49 Dr. Ingrid Bacon: We become the champions, the fighters. Some of us may go into avoidance, We flight, we run away, we detach, we disconnect, we hide. We run away from caring. We stop doing anything. And some of us just freeze and become completely paralyzed. Numb like robots in that situation. So it is about understanding yourself. It is about understanding your limits, your boundaries. It is about understanding the different roles you have in life. And also understanding your stress responses and your stress reactions so that you can identify the signs for when you are crossing boundaries and doing or not doing what should be at the optimal or normal level of caring.
0:38:36:77 Pamela D Wilson: Let’s say that I’m a caregiver and I’m listening to you, and I realize that I have gone way too far. I only see myself as this caregiver. I don’t even know who I was before this. How do I get myself out of this? [chuckle]
0:38:53:32 Dr. Ingrid Bacon: So understanding what else you are. So it’s about reconnecting with self. So, like going back to the very helpful suggestions that participants of my research offered to us. They said that they became like chameleons. They over-adapted. They accommodated the needs of others. They became that role to a point that they lost connection with themselves. With who they were. With their sense of self. So their sense of self got completely, completely lost into what they were doing. So it is about going back and reconnecting with yourself and finding out who you are.
0:39:49:30 Dr. Ingrid Bacon: What are the different roles that you have in your life? How much of your energy are you giving, and are you putting into the other roles? But also reconnecting with yourself in terms of what is it that are my needs? My emotional needs, my physical needs? My social needs. What is it, what are the things that I value? What are the things that I desire? And by reconnecting with yourself. And it doesn’t have to be in big steps, big things. But in little things. In small things. Day to day things. It helps you to see the bigger picture and amplify your perspective on things.
0:40:41:93 Pamela D Wilson: Is there anything else that you’d like to share, Dr. Bacon?
0:40:46:59 Dr. Ingrid Bacon: Yes, so just in terms of when you’re doing too much. When you’re caring too much. So just a bit of expounding a bit more on your question. I’d like to say that sometimes our body and our minds will give us signs for when we are giving too much. When we are doing too much. You know, a bit like a car. You know we also have a dashboard. You know, and our body will tell us when is too much. So we will experience symptoms of stress. Problems with sleep. Problems with our digestive system, low energy, tiredness, headaches. Those are physical signs.
0:41:37:70 Dr. Ingrid Bacon: There are psychological signs. Such as feeling irritable, having low mood, experiencing panic attacks. It is important that if you are noticing some of the symptoms if you are experiencing some of these symptoms that you seek medical and psychological support. Because the more you look after yourself, the better you will be able to look after your loved one. So the more you invest in yourself, the more energy and strength you will have to invest in others. So listen. Listen to your body. Listen to your needs. Take very good care of yourself. Because by meeting your needs first, you will be able, and you will be more equipped to meet the needs of others.
0:42:29:07 Pamela D Wilson: Dr. Bacon, I thank you so much for all the work that you do and for your time today.
0:42:34:46 Dr. Ingrid Bacon: Thank you so much for having me on your program. It’s been a pleasure to talk to you.
0:42:40:30 Pamela D Wilson: Up next, tips five through seven for what to do when you can no longer care for elderly parents. Please share this week’s show with your family, friends, and colleagues. You can find the Caring Generation on all of your favorite podcast and music apps: Apple, Google, I Heart Radio, JioSaavn, Spreaker, Amazon Music, Breaker, Deezer, Listen Notes, Pandora, Player FM, Pocket Casts, Podcast Addict, Podchaser, Stitcher, Spotify, Tune In and Vurbl. This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, speaker, and eldercare consultant on The Caring Generation. Stay with me. I’ll be right back.
0:43:43:18 Pamela D Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, speaker, and eldercare consultant on The Caring Generation. If you are an aging adult or a caregiver not sure what to do or how to plan for care, my website PamelaDWilson.com offers resources for caregivers. Check out my caregiving library, my Caring for Aging Parents blog, listen to all of The Caring Generation podcasts, read the show transcripts, watch videos, and check out caregiver courses online. There’s something for everyone at PamelaDWilson.com
0:44:15:84 Pamela D Wilson: Let’s return to talking about steps five, six, and seven for when you can no longer care for elderly parents. As we talk about this topic, you might be sensing that each step moves you forward toward focusing on your needs and, even more importantly, regaining your sense of self. As Dr. Bacon and I discussed, starting small to take daily steps to reconnect with yourself and your needs will help manage some of the fear or discomfort you might be feeling about giving up some or all of your caregiving responsibilities.
0:44:54:20 Pamela D Wilson: Some caregivers ask me, “is there is life after caregiving?” The answer is yes, with the realization that caregiving responsibilities can repeat throughout life as elderly parents may first need care. Then maybe a spouse, or a partner, or siblings, grandparents, or others. Even friends. The knowledge and experience that you gain from each caregiving journey will serve you well when being a caregiver repeats which it is likely to do.
0:45:28:03 Pamela D Wilson: By meeting your needs, by learning how to meet your needs, you will be able to focus on the needs of others. This thought takes us to step number five for when you can no longer care for elderly parents. Holding the family meeting and announcing your decision to decrease, modify, or end caregiving responsibilities. Earlier in the show, we talked about caregivers who are wishy-washy or uncertain about deciding to change when realizing when you can no longer care for elderly parents.
0:46:01:64 Pamela D Wilson: Now that you’ve chosen a path forward, you want to be crystal clear about your intentions so that you offer confidence and conviction about the plan you are about to present to the family. To arrive at this point of conviction, you may want to discuss this decision with your spouse, a trusted friend, or a professional so that you are clear about the whys. Why? Because your elderly parents, siblings, and others will question why you want to change the situation. They may try to change your mind back or offer last-minute assistance that may never materialize.
0:46:43:78 Pamela D Wilson: When faced with change, the motivation of families—really of everyone—is usually to attempt to maintain the status quo. Remember, others and have been more interested in their needs than yours. If you waiver in your desire to have your needs met and change your mind, you will have an even greater struggle on your hands if or when you attempt to implement another change. My recommendation for step five—announcing your decision—is to role-play the situation so that you can anticipate and have a confident response to all objections, questions, and fears.
0:47:29:07 Pamela D Wilson: If your profession is a salesperson or a negotiator, you have this down. You will have a more straightforward process for role-playing this situation in your mind. Otherwise, if you’re not a salesperson and you’re not strong at negotiating, practice, practice, and practice again. Think of every possible reason that your siblings or elderly parents might object. If you arrive at several that you can’t answer, postpone the meeting and return to investigating mode so that you have answers.
0:46:00:00 Pamela D Wilson: If during the family meeting, other questions arise for which you don’t have facts or the answers, say that you will investigate the matter and respond within a specific time frame. Number six for when you can no longer care for elderly parents is to support two-way conversations with siblings, parents, and others who want to discuss the plan. Patience and listening can go a long way to supporting progress and agreement by others.
0:48:32:47 Pamela D Wilson: To get in the right mindset, think of a time in your life when something unexpected occurred, and you had to make a decision. For example, maybe you felt time-pressured, or you didn’t have enough information to make a good decision. You may have felt threatened or intimidated by other people or a whole list of other feelings. The goal as the initiator—as the change agent—of this decision is to help others feel that their opinions and questions matter because they do.
0:49:05:83 Pamela D Wilson: Your goal is to establish trust and confidence that you care about the outcome for everyone involved, which you do. But that you are firm in your decision to change the situation. At any point in the change process, it’s common to experience self-doubt and fear. Especially when others begin questioning your whys. Your judgment, character, or reasoning. Others may react or attack you with verbal outbursts, yelling, or frustration.
0:49:41:22 Pamela D Wilson: Remaining calm and listening without feeling a need to justify your whys can help balance out emotional outbursts that probably may happen. As you role-play potential objections and responses, think about what you value in life. Do you value peace? Do you value the ability to be independent and live your life? Value and be proud of the contributions that you made in the past to the care of your parents that others in the family may not have made.
0:50:18:96 Pamela D Wilson: While it’s important not to keep score, it’s important to avoid making comparisons or judgments realize that family members who fear change or feel guilty about their lack of participation may react defensively and may resort to these behaviors. Everyone is entitled to their feelings—and this means you, especially now. Family members who have not participated in caring for your aging parents lack a complete understanding of what it’s like to be a caregiver.
0:50:49:96 Pamela D Wilson: When you can be compassionate and consider the lack of experience and insight by others into your life experience, you can put yourself in a place of calm response and discussion. Acknowledge their fears and return to your whys and the necessity of change. Ask siblings who may object to the change how or if they want to participate to do more for your parents. How they want to participate in implementing the changes.
0:51:23:25 Pamela D Wilson: Most of all, place communication with your elderly parents who will be most affected by the change at the top of the list, with their objections as primary and the objections of others as secondary. The relationship that you have with your parents and your ability to communicate the plan is the most important determinant of what happens next. If your siblings attempt to divide you and your parent, mom or dad can choose how to react if they have their mental capacity—meaning if they do not have Alzheimer’s or dementia.
0:52:03:49 Pamela D Wilson: In these situations, if you are the primary caregiver for elderly parents, you might likely be the legal decision-maker for a parent with memory loss. In that situation, a family discussion of a care plan may be a courtesy to siblings when difficult decisions have to be made about changing the care situation. Placing an elderly parent into a care community. If you run into contentious situations talking to an eldercare consultant with experience in the area of family conflict, like myself, or hiring an elder law attorney may be necessary.
0:52:38:24 Pamela D Wilson: When you can no longer care for elderly parents, identifying relationships that are draining you instead of building you up can be challenging. Most caregivers who find themselves in situations of no longer being able to care for elderly parents have persisted through challenging or extreme situations for years. By desiring to focus on your needs, you might feel that you are being a quitter, and you may fall back into a pattern of fear and self-doubt.
0:53:09:64 Pamela D Wilson: Instead of making life decisions based on who others want or expect you to be, commit to regaining your sense of self to identify what you value and what you want and need from life. While many of us worry about what others think about us, in the end, what matters is what we think about ourselves. Being happy and comfortable in your skin is okay. You don’t have to be like everyone else or do what everyone else does. This one makes me laugh. How many of you remember asking your parents to do or have something when you were younger, and your parents responded with – “just because Jane has or does that doesn’t mean you have to.”
0:53:56:66 Pamela D Wilson: How many of you remember the peer pressure you faced in high school or college to do certain things or act a certain way? Those days are in the past. Put them behind you. Know and learn yourself. Don’t allow peer pressure or pressure within your family to guide your life when you realize you can no longer care for elderly parents. For all caregivers, focusing on the positives in life, including being grateful for what you have, is beneficial. Focus on what you have and what you have accomplished. Make new friendships with people who understand and appreciate you.
0:54:39:44 Pamela D Wilson: Put your energy into building relationships that build you up so that you can continue to gain confidence and competence in your daily life and the decisions you make. As a caregiver moving ahead, let go of the need to control everything that happens in your parents’ lives—I know that one can be difficult. Just as your parents had to do when you were growing up and looking at moving out of the house. Have faith and confidence in the future and hope that everyone will make the right decisions for themselves.
0:55:15:10 Pamela D Wilson: Trust and let go so that you can be open to all of the wonderful and amazing possibilities that life offers. In doing research for this show, I recently came across a quote by Walt Disney, the creator of Disneyland in case you don’t know. Who said, “it’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” Another quote from Peter Pan by author J.M. Barrie—and this quote is attributed to Tinkerbell, “all it takes is faith, trust, and a little bit of pixie dust.”
0:55:48:97 Pamela D Wilson: In the coming weeks, and months, and years, I hope that you attempt to do the impossible and succeed by finding a little bit of pixie dust in your life. Find someone to support and inspire you to do more than you ever thought you could do. Even if that first something is to decide what to do when you can no longer care for elderly parents.
0:56:15:53 Pamela D Wilson: Pamela D Wilson: Thank you for joining me on this episode of The Caring Generation – the only program of its kind connecting caregivers and aging adults worldwide to talk about caregiving, health, and everything in between. Invite your family and friends to listen each week. If you’d like to learn more about the experiences and interests of other caregivers, follow me on social media. My posts respond to caregivers who complete the caregiver survey on my website, in addition to those who respond on social media.
0:56:44:12 Pamela D Wilson: On Facebook, follow me at @pameladwilsoncaregivingexpert, where you can join my online caregiver support group, The Caregiving Trap. Follow me on Twitter @caregivingspeak, Instagram @wilsonpamelad, and Linked In at pameladwilsoncaregiverexpert. This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, advocate, and speaker. I look forward to being with you again soon. God bless you all. Sleep well tonight. Have a fabulous day tomorrow and a great week until we are here together again.
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