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Caring For Aging Parents – Grief, Relief and Comfort

Whether you’re still caring for an aging parent or your dependent parents have already passed away, it’s important to recognize what grieving looks like and how to incorporate strategies to help you through the process.

Although there are different models of grieving, many experts say that the grieving process generally has 5 stages.

1. Denial – This is the muscle that drives a person to the initial loss. If you’re struggling with elder care solutions as you care for an aging parent or have just lost dependent parents, you may find yourself saying things like, “It doesn’t make sense!” or “This can’t be my life!” During denial, it is common for caregivers to become numb. In fact, other relatives and friends may view children of older parents as cold or withdrawn.

2. Anger – This stage, a necessary part of the grieving process, is the emergence of deep emotions, including feelings of desolation and abandonment. Caregivers may be angry that they could not do more to help the sick parent, or they could be angry at a sibling who was not around. As an elderly caregiver, you may feel angry that the last 5 years of your life have been consumed by caring for aging parents. This is especially true if you have struggled to find the right senior care solutions. These feelings are normal and nothing to be ashamed of.

3. Negotiations – After a loved one has died, those caring for an aging parent may find themselves negotiating with a higher power. Those who have just spent years trying to find senior care solutions may find themselves saying, “If I succeed, will you bring Dad back?”

4. Depression – At this stage, those charged with elder care solutions may still feel sadness or anger, but the emotions are buried under a sense of numbness. This stage is not a symptom of mental illness. rather it is a symptom of the realization that an elderly parent is not getting better or has already died.

5. Acceptance – Although this is the final stage of the grieving process, it is not the “everything is hunter” stage. Perhaps it is time to accept the new reality. Those who cared for an elderly parent may still feel sadness or anger, but the feelings may not be as raw as they were.

While these stages are familiar, caregivers may also experience another emotion: relief. Whether it’s the peace of mind knowing dad is no longer suffering or the relief that a certain level of freedom is returning to your life, recognize that it’s a completely natural feeling if you’re caring for an aging parent and have struggled with elder care solutions for a long time .

As you and other family members move through the grieving process, there are things you can do that—while they won’t ease the pain of the loss—may bring some comfort and joy.

1. Create a tribute to your parent. If your family was caring for an elderly parent, make this a family project. For example, compile mom’s most delicious recipes into a book to give to family and friends during the holidays. Have the children in the family create artwork surrounding the recipes. Tech-savvy members can scan photos to add to the pages. Your local copier or online printers can produce the book at reasonable prices.

2. If family and friends span the country, create an online tribute. Family members can work together to create a free blog or low-cost website where you can upload photos, videos and journal entries. You might be surprised at how easy it is to maintain a blog or website, but don’t hesitate to ask for help if you think it’s in over your head.

3. Find support from others tasked with elder care solutions. Local hospitals or hospices may host support groups for grieving caregivers or other family members. Support groups can be especially helpful around milestones like mom’s birthday or the first anniversary of her death.

4. Turn grief into action. If you were caring for elderly parents who had a home of furry friends, volunteer at an animal shelter once a month. raise money to research the disease Dad lived with. use part of an inheritance to set up a scholarship in Mom’s hometown. Not sure how to help? Brainstorm with the family to find a fun and purposeful activity that you can all participate in.

For children of aging parents, the grieving process is inevitable, whether it begins when mom moves in with you or in the days after she dies. Allow yourself to move through the stages of grief and find activities that bring you and your family the comfort and joy you deserve.

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