Top Five Feelings and Emotions That Describe What It's Like When a Parent Needs Care
In all the time I've been supporting clients, I've met hundreds of family members. There are some common themes around the feelings and emotions that they express when talking about finding themselves in a situation where they need to source care and support for a loved one.
I'd like to share these with the express intent of letting you know that if you are going through the same experience, what you are feeling is normal and you are not alone. So here goes, these are the top five things that family members have told me:
1. "I feel guilty"
Often, the relative that I am searching for care and support for has previously said that they don't need help and wouldn't want any help. The simple act of finding out what help and support may be out there can bring feelings of guilt because you may feel you are going against your loved one's wishes. It can feel like you are trying to 'outsource' love and affection. Rest assured - you are motivated by the right intentions and your actions in doing some research is coming from a good place.
2. "I feel frustrated"
Feelings of frustration are quite normal, often exacerbated by the twin pressures of a parent or loved one refusing to acknowledge a need for support while you are having to simultaneously provide the very support that your parent is in denial about!
3. "I feel alone"
Many family members have told me that they feel very alone when seeking to create a solution for a senior who needs care and support. Not knowing where to start looking for help and feeling that it's all 'down to you' is quite typical. In our experience, the elder daughter in a family typically (although not exclusively!) gets the job of sorting out the problem with mum or dad's care. It can seem, at times, as if no-one else understands. Not your parent, your partner, your children or your friends. It can really feel like flying solo at night with no map or compass.
4. "This was never in my life plan"
As children, we like to think of our parents as somewhat frozen in time, like the very best picture on the mantelpiece. The reality is that we all age and we all age differently. Most of us want to keep the parent-child relationship until the end so being presented with something of a role-reversal can be challenging.
5. "I feel angry" Anger
At your parent, your siblings, your partner, your children, your situation. All of these are quite rational and normal. This wasn't your choice and the impact upon your well-being and the fulfilment of your life plan can be significant.
So what can you do to move on from these very real and very normal feelings? You know that you want the best for your parent or loved one. But you have a life and responsibilities too. Acknowledging how you feel is the first step and recognising that what you are feeling is quite typical. I should know, my wife and I are going through this right now! There are solutions out there and people ready to help.
John Kirk is a Senior Care Consultant with over 14 years’ experience in senior care including leading a large residential & nursing care home group, high quality care at home services and the provision of specialist consultancy services to residential, nursing and domiciliary care providers.