Long term elderly parent caregiving emotional costs

We don’t choose elder care. Eldercare chooses us.” This quote from Joy Loverde is nearly universally accurate. As a result, long term elderly parent caregiving emotional costs begin early. 

The meter is running before we even realize we are on the track. At first, elderly parent caregivers feel as if the rug was yanked out from under us.

While we grasp for something to stabilize the experience nothing materializes.

As the journey lengthens, caregivers recognize that life is no longer going to be the same. Caregiver’s lives are measured through a series of adjustments. While some of the adjustments are gradual, they all end up as a debit or credit.

Elderly parent caregiver debits 

Elderly parent caregiving emotional costs rarely have (tangible)rewards. Almost all elderly parent caregivers give far more than they receive. AND…there are many unexpected “debits” to the caregiving experience . Here are a few :

  • Social isolation– the increased caregiving duties require time that used to be dedicated elsewhere. Caregivers often use former friend time for caregiving.
  • Your family members and siblings withdraw or judge.
  • Everyone has an opinion. Some are worth considering. Many are not. 
  • Your circle of friends shrinks.  Caregivers are not “the same” anymore. Unless they have been there, friends DO NOT understand the new caregiver “you”. 
  • You are always “on call”. The needs are increasing and the calls for help are too!

A critical aspect to the “debit ” effect is that it is cumulative. As caregiving continues, the repetitive giving- and debits – increase.

There ARE upsides for the long term caregiver. Rather than being obvious like debits,  caregiving credits are the “ahas” of time in the caregiving trenches.

Credits to the “good”

Although the caregiving experience often plays out in unimaginable realms, there ARE valuable discoveries.  I list just a few:

  • You will learn more about yourself than any other time in your life.
  • You will develop skillsets, talents and adaptive techniques you never realized before. These include: flexibility, patience, stamina, resourcefulness, resiliency and faith.
  • You will learn impressive problem-solving techniques and skills!
  • You will learn the critical importance of setting and maintaining healthy boundaries. Saying NO will become comfortable.
  • You will no longer tolerate “friends” who judge you as a caregiver. 

http://nzherald.co.nz compares the elderly parent caregiver experience to a “messy divorce” – until you have been through it, you really don’t know what it is like.

So- even with the difficult realities of elderly parent caregiving, there ARE beneficial outcomes. There may not be an even tally of the debits versus the credits. But…the positive “credits” of the experience will be what you take away.

All of this is experiential. AND….the value is that YOU learn lessons unavailable to those who have not traveled this road.

Admire who you are and what you do!

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About the Author

Julie Green

- 35 Years as an Educator and Administrator of an Alternative High School and Juvenile Detention Center.
- 5 Years as Director of Education in a residential, therapeutic treatment center for young adults unable to function successfully in society.
- 14 Years (and current active involvement) as primary caregiver for my own parents .
- 9 Years as Facilitator for local retiement adjustment group
- Bachelor of Science in Education (B.S.)
- Three Master's Degrees (M. Eds) in Learning Remediation, Vocational Education and Administration.
- Certified Family Transitions Coach (Certified Through Coach Training Alliance)
- Active member of International Coach Federation.
- Lifelong learner and practitioner of gracefully applying grit to life's challenging transitions.

Email: Julie@JulieGreen.org

Phone: 208-755-2824



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