Caring for an Ailing Parent with Confidence

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Reversing the roles of caregiver and dependent is an extremely complicated process. Often adult children are thrown into the role of caregiver of their mothers or fathers in the blink of an eye, and it can lead to doubt and anxiety.

As unfortunate as it may feel in the moment, ailing parents are simply a part of life. It is the natural progression that most have to face. Here is a toolbox to help deal with progressing from someone's child to his or her caregiver:

1) Accept what is happening. As difficult as it may seem, it is important to know the facts of the illness or condition that needs to be handled. If it is an illness that will eventually lead to death (whether immediate or long-term), making arrangements for a written will, funeral, and legal determinations is crucial. Completing these steps will reduce future stress and worry.

2) Have open communication with your parent. Explain that you will be handling the situation and stepping up into the caregiver role, so that there is no question or uncertainty.

3) Prepare yourself. It will be a rough road to travel. Be prepared. Surround yourself with a reliable support system, plenty of positive energy, and tissues. Know that you will shed tears; you will fall; you will get back up; and you will do what needs done for your parent.

4) Approach your parent with L-O-V-E. Be gentle, loving and understanding, but be strong and courageous. When you are in the last moments with your parent, show them how much you love them. Let that message overshadow the message of fear. Assure your parent that he or she is headed for a wonderful place, and his or her pain will soon end.

5) Reach out to others. There are a number of helpful organizations whose mission is to help caregivers. Don't hesitate to reach out for help. Investigate your local social services organizations and speak to representatives about your situation. Take the help they offer. The stronger you are, the better you will take care of your parent during this difficult time.

Caring for your ailing parent may seem unnatural and stressful, but being prepared and approaching the situation with a full toolbox can help turn it into a natural, even beautiful, experience. You have a window of opportunity to make lasting memories and to develop your parent's hardships into a unique loving and bonding experience.