Talking to Family When You Can No Longer Care for an Elderly Parent

Being the primary caregiver of an aging loved one is not easy. It can start to affect your finances, emotional & physical health, or other relationships. If you feel you’ve reached your peak, it doesn’t mean you’re being selfish or uncaring. But how do you break it to the family? And how do you manage your feelings of sadness & guilt? Here are a few tips to follow when discussing changes in caregiving arrangements with your family


Change Your Perspective

It’s completely normal to feel guilty when you want to stop being a caregiver for a loved one. Your decision may also bring change for your other family members, and they may not agree. Changes are usually difficult at first. However, shifting your view on this will help. You’ve been providing care in one way, and it’s time to provide it in another way. Your loved one may require additional care that you’re not trained to provide. So, transitioning to an assisted living community may be the most caring thing you can do. When encountering family members that don’t agree, remind them of the loved one and their needs.


Communicate with Care

When you begin to explain try to use inclusive language. Make it clear that you’re not telling them what to do or forcing them into something they don’t want to do. The following phrases can help:

  • “Here are my thoughts”
  • “I could use your help figuring out the next steps”
  • “We’re in this together”
  • “Do you have any other ideas?”

Explain and believe that you’ve done the best you can. The discussion may get heated so stay calm & remind them of the loved one and their needs. You can say, “I’ve reached the end of the line and need help.” If they seem willing, tell them they’re welcome to take over caregiving responsibilities.                                    

For some families, having a geriatric care manager or family therapist may be best. Your local Area Agency on Aging can recommend someone.


Acknowledge Your Feelings

Do you think you’re being judged for this decision? Do you feel you’ve abandoned the original caregiving plan? Do you believe that yourself? Do you feel someone else could have done better? Are others constantly criticizing your caregiving decisions?

If so, have self-compassion and be kind to yourself. Feeling exhausted, inadequate, or resentful is often what happens when caregivers set boundaries or change the rules. Remember that others have been in your situation before, and there are ways to talk to them. Consider joining an in-person or online caregiver support group.



What’s next?

Once you’ve expressed your desire for a caregiving change, you may decide as a family that your aging loved one needs more help than they can provide.

If you’d like to learn more or are considering a nursing home or assisted living for a loved one in northern NJ, The Little Nursing Home of Montclair offers a cozy and calm atmosphere with the comforts of home. Call or email us for more info to schedule a tour.

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