Most people have fond childhood memories of the love and nurturing they received from formative adults in their life- like a parent or grandparent. But there comes a time in almost every child’s life when they have to reverse their role and become an informal caregiver for those cherished loved ones. 

Confusion resulting from those role reversals can oftentimes complicate the caregiving relationship. Finding ways to better understand and accept your new role as a caregiver will make the entire process go more smoothly. Here are some ways to make it happen.

Signs of Unhealthy Caregiver Role Reversal

For reasons like pride, dignity, and privacy it’s not unusual for an elderly parent to be reluctant to accept assistance from their own child. Whatever role reversal situation you currently find yourself in, these are some signs that it’s becoming unhealthy for both of you:

  • You are making demeaning comments to your loved one.
  • You are speaking in a condescending or patronizing manner.
  • You are making them feel bad because they have to depend on you for activities of daily living (ADLs), like bathing, dressing, or preparing meals.
  • You find yourself increasingly impatient with your loved one.
  • You make decisions on your loved one’s behalf without consulting them first because you feel that doing so is in their “best interests”.

Role confusion can cause negative feelings that interfere with your ability to provide the love and nurturing your loved one deserves. If those feelings aren’t addressed, it can diminish their quality of life and threaten their independence.

How to Minimize Role Confusion as a Caregiver

As the relationship with your elderly loved one changes over time, managing the resulting role reversal doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are some tips that will help ensure a more seamless and stress-free caregiving process:

Communicate frankly

The psychological impact of a role reversal can be confusing, especially at first. Seeing an adult that once took care of you become so vulnerable and dependent can be an unsettling experience. Elderly parents don’t want to feel like a burden on their children- a perception that can lower their self-esteem and sense of self-worth.

For all these reasons it’s so important to communicate frankly with one another. Getting caregiving expectations and concerns clearly out in the open will help alleviate confusion moving forward and bring both parties closer together.

Respect your elder’s wishes

As your loved one’s caregiver, you’re oftentimes thrust in the role of being a decision-maker for them too. Those decisions could be about managing their finances, getting them the medical care that’s needed, or handling other important matters. Understand that being placed in a position of authority comes with a lot of responsibility.

However, always try to respect your loved one’s wishes while acting on their behalf. For example, if they are engaging in unhealthy habits like eating sugary foods or watching too much TV, respectfully share your concerns without talking down to them.

Practice patience

Your loved one is more than likely going to be hesitant about accepting your help at first. Raising your voice, making threats, or openly expressing frustration is just going to make them more resistant. Instead, calmly let them know why you feel the need to offer your assistance and then discuss any misunderstandings that may interfere with the caregiving process.

Remember that if your childhood role models could put up with your complaining and repetitive questions while growing up, you can certainly extend them the same courtesy once those roles are reversed!

Reliable Senior Home Care When You Need It

Sometimes in a role reversal caregiving relationship, both parties just need to take a break for a while. When you need assistance, contact us. We are a fully licensed and insured home care provider with highly trained professionals who are experts at delivering the nurturing that your loved one deserves. While serving as an extended family in your senior’s home, our compassionate caregivers can perform duties like light housekeeping, personal care, dementia care, companionship care, reminding them about medications, and even live-in and 24-hour care.

Our agency’s focus is maintaining your loved one’s quality of life, along with their dignity, self-esteem, and independence. For your added convenience all our in-home services can be individually personalized into an affordable package when and where you need them! To learn more about us now, or to schedule a FREE initial consultation for a senior in our service area today, please visit us online!