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How to Navigate Your Transition from Child to Caregiver

Emotional Wellbeing | January 17, 2024

A daughter and her elderly mother discussing the role reversal from daughter to caregiver.

Whether due to illness, accident, or aging, the time may come when you find yourself placed into the role of caregiver for one or both of your parents. Becoming the primary caregiver for your mom or dad can be emotionally taxing. As a caregiver, you’ll have to not only face the physical challenges that come with the role, but you will also experience reversing roles with your parent.

The transition from child to caregiver is challenging for everyone involved – drastically changing the dynamic you once had with your parent. The role reversal that happens when a parent becomes dependent on you to assist them with everyday tasks such as bathing, dressing, meal preparation, or running errands could create tension in your relationship.

The key to navigating this transition successfully is to understand what aspects of your relationship are changing and embrace those changes with empathy. To assist you in navigating this life change, we put together some tips and tricks to guide you through the transition from being a child to taking on the role of caregiver.

Tips for Navigating the Transition from Child to Caregiver   

Act with Empathy

While becoming a caregiver presents its own challenges, it’s important to remember that your parent is struggling too. This may be the first time in their lives that they are no longer able to care for themselves. The anxiety and fear that this presents could make them lash out and act irrationally or out of character. Try not to take this personally as they are likely frustrated by the circumstances. Make sure to listen to them with empathy and kindness – taking into account what they are going through.

We recommend that you make caregiving a dialogue rather than trying to dictate everything. Your parent is a grown adult, not a child – so it is important to listen to their thoughts and treat them with the same dignity and respect you would expect to be given under these circumstances.

Additionally, it’s important that you and your parent take part in the same activities you have come to love over the years. Activities such as going out shopping, sharing meals, watching movies, and reading together are vital to maintaining a relationship outside of caregiving.

Cherish the Small Moments

Being a caregiver can be an emotional rollercoaster. Stay positive and appreciate the small moments. Keep an eye out for moments when you can enjoy a delicious meal based on a classic family recipe or reminisce about previous travels or milestones. These are the moments you’ll be sure to cherish forever.

Find a Support System

Caring for a parent can be emotionally and physically taxing, so it’s important to build and take advantage of a support system. Joining a support group for adult children who provide care for their parents can be incredibly helpful. Connecting with others in similar situations is reassuring and can help you through difficult moments.

You can find online and in-person support groups through hospitals, social media sites, community centers, or organizations like the Alzheimer’s Association and the American Heart Association

Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourself

It’s easy to put yourself last when consumed with caregiving duties. If you find that you are frequently experiencing feelings of burnout, stress, or anxiety, you should consider taking some time to care for yourself. Your mental health is important, and you should never sacrifice your own well-being while trying to care for a loved one as it won’t benefit either of you.

We recommend setting aside time for yourself every day to focus on self-care and personal interests. A great time to do this is when your parent is resting, watching their favorite show, or participating in their favorite hobby. If you find that you are still experiencing negative thoughts, you may want to seek out the help of a mental health professional or therapist for either you or you and your loved one.

Look Into Professional Care Services

If caregiving responsibilities become too overwhelming or difficult to manage on your own, don’t be afraid to look for help from professionals. There is a wide array of care options that could help you and your loved one during this difficult transition. From skilled nursing and private duty services to personal care options, there are resources available that can help.

Remember that you don’t have to do it alone. Your loved one may need more support and one-on-one care than you can provide. Whether your schedule won’t allow it, or you just want to give your loved one the opportunity to see another friendly face, there are plenty of reasons your loved one could benefit from the help of a professional caregiver or companion.

Reach Out for Help When You Need It

As you step into your role as a caregiver, recognize when you’re hitting your limits. It’s crucial to reach out for help when you need it – giving you a well-deserved break and your parent the personalized care and services they deserve.

If you are trying to find the right care option for your parent, National Church Residences is here to help. We take an individual approach, offering quality senior living options and long-term care services for seniors to feel comfortable during their golden years. Find out which senior living options are in your area or give us a call at 844-465-6063 to talk to one of our friendly staff members today.

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