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Help for Caregivers, Our Thankless Heroes

Caring for an aging loved one is an incredibly difficult job that is often thankless. 

Virtually everyone will need some help as they age, and most of us will resist that help as long as possible. Combine this with the love and concern that most children feel towards their parents and it can be tricky for everyone involved.

In a 2004 study from the State University of New York at Albany, researchers found that aging parents had strong desires for both autonomy and connection with their children. But researchers also found that while aging adults hoped their children would be available to help, they were quite annoyed if children actually stepped in to help. This help was often viewed as “overprotective” by the aging parent. As a way of dealing with their ambivalent feelings, the aging adults often minimized the help they received from their kids, ignored or resisted help, and often withheld information from their children to maintain independence and boundaries.

The bottom line? It’s hard to be an aging parent and it’s hard to be the adult child of an aging parent. We see this everyday in our practice, and that is part of the reason we’ve designated part of our team as Elder Care Advisors.

Seniors May Not Say It Often, But They Are Grateful for Children Who Help

Our Senior Asset Coordinator, Laura Peffley, was recently reading a book which reminded her of how thankless it is to be a caregiver. Yet, it can also be very rewarding to care for a loved one as they age. Here is an excerpt from Marguerite Noble’s book, Filaree: A Novel of American Life: 

“‘No, Mary Belle. I’m the one who is cantankerous. You put up with a lot from me. The other children bring me fine presents on Mother’s Day. Things I can’t wear. Don’t want ’em. Don’t need ’em. Don’t like ’em. Just put them all away in the dresser drawer. On Easter they send me flowers I cain’t smell. You gotta water the flowers and wash out the vases.’

The old woman continued, her voice low and gentle. ‘They bring their passel of younguns for a five-minute visit on Sunday afternoon. they kiss me and cain’t wait to git away. Then they feel good ’cause they came to pay their respects to their ma. But you are the one who takes care of this crochety old woman. Cookin’ for her. Dressin’ her. Listenin’ to her complaints and her ailments…Daughter, you are all right.'”

While it is one of our greatest pleasure to get to know our clients’ families and help facilitate the aging process, there are resources that can make the process of aging and caregiving a little easier to navigate.

Help for Caregivers

Edwards Group’s Elder Care Advisors help families navigate the challenges of aging and the long-term care system serving as guides, encouragers, counselors, resource gatherers, and advocates along the journey. Give us a call at 217-726-9200 to find out more.

AARP has a wealth of caregiving resources, including a Caregiving Planning Guide that helps families talk through the goals and needs with their aging loved one.

The local Area Agency on Aging provides resources unique to Illinois and the Springfield area.

Other websites like AgingCare.com and the Family Caregiver Alliance provide support for caregivers.

Feel free to click on the links above for more specifics, and contact us with helpful caregiving resources we may have overlooked.