Care Story: Anxiety and Aging Parents
Meet Janice and Jack:
Janice, 80, and Jack, 86, have been married for 60 years and have four children together. They have lived in the same home for more than fifty years and their dream is to remain in their home for the rest of their lives. While Janice has been relatively healthy over the years, Jack has been aging with more difficulty. Despite Janice’s efforts to take care of Jack, he falls walking up the stairs in his home and breaks his hip. Regardless of the plans Janice and Jack had created for their future, they now must deal with the current situation.
While Jack needs to remain in the hospital for surgery, Janice must return to her home by herself. Since Janice has been acting as the primary caregiver for herself and Jack, their children were not too worried about Janice being alone while Jack remained in the hospital for a week. Instead, they were focusing on Jack and his recovery.
Much to the children’s surprise, their mother calls one of the siblings in a panic about not being able to get out of bed.
Janice is picked up by one of the children and is taken to the hospital. Jack is notified, but not alarmed. He tells the children this has been going on for over fifty years. During stressful periods of her life, Janice has major anxiety and Jack is the one who helps Janice through it. Jack was the only one who knew about Janice’s problem which came as a shock to their children.
All this time, their children had been concerned with Jack’s well-being and had not had much concern over Janice and her well-being. Jack and Janice were still being the parents; they didn’t want their children to be burdened with helping the two of them, and Janice was embarrassed with the situation.
Since Jack was in no condition to take care of anyone else, let alone himself, and Janice was going through major anxiety, the children needed to step up and make decisions regarding their parents’ care. This was a territory that they had previously not been in before. They needed to come to terms with the idea that they needed to assume a parental role in decision making for their parents.
Their first objective was to ensure their parents were stable. Jack was post-surgery and recovering well. He would be able to come home in a few days. Janice was being released from the hospital the next day and needed care.
The children made arrangements with a local agency to assess the situation and offer assistance with home care. In the meantime, one of the siblings needed to be there with Janice.
Oftentimes, when a couple has been together for years acting as a team and being each other’s support for that long becomes second nature for the couple. When one is separated from the other, some dependencies that they had for one another may become very difficult to replace. To help your loved ones through it, I have provided a system to turn your crisis into a manageable solution.
Talk with each loved one confidentially and individually one-on-one. Respectfully have an honest conversation about their partner and their partner’s well-being moving forward. Make sure that you are respecting both your parent’s needs. Write down your loved one’s major concerns for their partner.
Then talk with both parents together to confront the biggest concerns each one has for one another.
If you can’t be the mediator, reach out to PCP to have a one-on-one discussion about the bigger concerns.
If you need help guiding the conversation or identifying where your loved may need help with care, check out our guides here.
Also, remember that the aging senior in our lives may not be showing physical signs of problems.
In this case, the anxiety went unnoticed by the children and then made this situation much more complicated. Mental illness is a major issue. When dealing with aging loved ones, families need to take notice of the mental weaknesses as well as the physical weaknesses. If you suspect mental illness is affecting your aging loved one, talk to your loved one delicately about the situation. Ask to set up an appointment with their doctor to discuss the situation.
Does your loved one need help with activities of daily living? If so, Caregogi can help. Caregogi.com provides seniors in need of care with quality caregivers in their area. To find a caregiver for your loved one today, click the button below.
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