Patience with Parents: When the Shoe is on the Other Foot.

 

I always enjoy listening to Pamela Wilson’s Generation Podcast because of her no-quick-fix, no-nonsense, down-to-earth presentations. Today’s selection: “How to Have Patience With Elderly Parents” – The Caring Generation® Pamela Wilson   | Mar 31, 2021 | 

Click on the link below for the tips and insights that Pamela Wilson, a true caregiving expert, shares: 
How to Have Patience With Elderly Parents – The Caring Generation® (pameladwilson.com)

My response:

When you write a book and it is published, the expectation is for you to sell yourself as an expert on the subject.  But I am no expert on the subject of caregiving.  This has been disclosed on the back cover of the book, What to Do about Mama?  “It isn’t a book by ‘experts’, but by regular people in the trenches—people like you.”

Do I have Caregiving Experience?  Yes. 

  1. First of all, I was an Assessor at the Area Agency on Aging for over four years.  It was my job to visit seniors in their homes in order to administer comprehensive assessments to determine their needs and eligibility for services.  I saw firsthand the challenges for seniors and their caregivers, who were, in general, family caregivers. 
  2. Secondly, I was a caregiver for my mother-in-law for seven years, four full-time when she moved into our home. 

I have known a number of caregiving experts who, later in their careers, became family caregivers themselves.  I think it’s safe to say that it was a common experience for these experts to be full of confidence at the onset and humbled as their caregiving role progressed. 

Whenever I read a caregiving article or listen to a podcast such as this one, I think: “I have a relevant example of this in my book.”  And then I am hopeful that other caregivers will find the book, read it, and be helped by all the good information shared by the three dozen or so caregiver contributors who imparted their real-life caregiving experiences. 

I would like to point something out about the recommendations given by experts—those that have to do with establishing amicable interaction with “the others.”  (This is a term I use for the players relevant to caregiving relationships.) No matter how well you apply the lessons learned about establishing priorities, employing problem-solving skills, setting boundaries, utilizing good communication skills, building healthy relationships, and practicing patience—you cannot control either the responses or the choices others make. 

On the other hand, it taught me to take each day as it came and to deal with whatever that day brought. It taught me more about patience than anything else I have ever done.

What to Do about Mama? p. 62

Since we have no crystal balls with which to view the future, it is really important to not rush into the decision to assume the role of caregiver without thoughtful consideration beforehand. On its face, becoming “The Caregivercan seem like a quick fix—timesaving and convenient.  But in the long term, you can count on the fact that your care receiver’s needs will increase, sometimes to your breaking point.  Oftentimes the caregiving journey keeps on going and going—just like the Energizer Bunny—for 5-10-15-20-years or more. 

I have learned a lot of patience and some compassion, but I would never have chosen this task if I had known what lay ahead.

What to Do about Mama? p. 105

Caregivers are a busy and rushed group of people, often juggling work and caregiving responsibilities—trying to attend to  the needs of parents, spouse, and children alike. It is common for a caregiver to feel overworked and underappreciated.  As the care receiver heads down the slippery slope, more and more mitigation is required to meet increasing needs.  It is important to keep communication open, to really understand how your relationship partner is feeling, and to talk to each other for accurate understanding. 

A few weeks later I went to a caregiver’s workshop. The young woman sitting next to me turned to me and, with tears streaming down her face, told me the following story: My mother was taking care of my grandmother in my uncle’s home. When Grandma died, my uncle said my mom must move out. She came to live with me, and now she sits and does nothing. She has no interest in my five-year-old son. She feels it’s her turn to be cared for. So, I work full time, take care of my family, and now my mother too.

What to Do about Mama? p. 1

Improving patience becomes a primary need, and the results of becoming more patient are beneficial to interactions with everyone. When criticism is thrown about, caregivers may feel demoralized

“Everything is for your convenience!”

What to Do about Mama? p. 21

On the other hand, the more that the care recipient expresses kind expressions of happiness and lets the caregiver know that what they’re doing is actually making them feel better—that they really appreciate it—the more caregiver distress is diminished.  Gratitude goes a long way.

After the next incident of incontinence, a relatively short time later, my mother-in-law said, “I appreciate all the things you do for me. I appreciate your patience.”

What to Do about Mama? pp. 19-20

Again–click on the link to listen to the Podcast:
How to Have Patience With Elderly Parents – The Caring Generation® (pameladwilson.com)



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