Care, Compassion, and Support: Being There for Parents With Chronic Illnesses

Care Compassion and Support Being There for Parents with Chronic Illnessesarek_malang / Shutterstock
One of the most difficult times in any daughter or son’s life is facing the reality that a parent has a chronic illness. As mothers and fathers, it is not only ourselves who have to face these challenges, but also our own children. Grandparents are important figures and role models for children and it can be very hard for them to understand and deal with seeing their grandparents sick or suffering.

The difficult balance that requires looking after both elderly parents and children has led to us being called the “sandwich generation.” And there are lots of us: in many Western countries around 20% or more of the population belongs to the “sandwich generation.”

While much attention has been paid to parenting and managing a household, far less has been paid to how to care for chronically ill or elderly parents. The key to caring for chronically ill parents is balance.

  • Caregivers should try to have control over their own work and home lives before they can provide their parents with the care and support they need.
  • When dealing with work and home commitments, managing priorities and keeping a schedule can help set aside times to care for parents.
  • Spreading yourself too thin can cause all aspects of your life to suffer. Only commit to care you can handle giving.

Play to your strengths, only offer what you can, and don’t be afraid to seek help. Caregiving in the active sense is difficult, demanding, and not for everyone. There are other ways to support and help your parents beyond daily care.

  • Your parents know you well and understand what your strengths and weaknesses are. Some people are not made to be daily or live-in caregivers and that’s okay.
  • There are other ways to help including: providing emotional support, helping out your family members who are primary caregivers, arranging appointments and medical care, managing finances, or simply spending time with them.

Have open communication with your parents and build a relationship of trust and understanding.

  • Family meetings with your parents, siblings, and other close relatives can help discuss the level of care that they need, and decide who will be responsible for what.
  • Talk regularly with your parents about how they are doing and encourage them to be open about any other needs they have.
  • On the other hand, if your caregiving responsibilities are taking a toll on you and negatively affecting other areas of your life, it’s important to talk to your parents about it and work out a solution. They will understand.

Finally, you’re not in this alone. It’s important to know that there are resources available to help ease the challenges of caregiving.

  • Coordinating with your brothers, sisters and other family members to share responsibilities and work together will help provide the best care possible.
  • Many governments, offer tax credits or paid employment leave to care for loved ones, including parents. If you’re considering becoming a caregiver for a parent, look into whether this is an option for you.