5 Emotions to Acknowledge When Caring for Elderly Parents


Taking care of a parent while balancing your own family schedule, career, hobbies, and social life is a big challenge.

We know that there’s nothing you wouldn’t do to make sure your mom or dad was safe, happy, and healthy. And, we applaud you for doing as much as you can to provide for and take care of your loved one.

However, after years of sacrificing your time, money, and resources to keep your parent in his or her home or in your own, you may begin to feel an emotional burden weighing on you.

This is totally normal.

After all, the emotions you feel are closely connected to your desire to give mom or dad the best retirement possible.

Just because these emotions are normal doesn’t mean they are easy to navigate on your own.

At The Claiborne, we believe it’s very important to acknowledge these feelings in order to…

  1. Understand where the emotion is coming from.
  2. Work on a solution to prevent negative emotions from taking over your life.

Keep reading to take a look at the top 5 emotions that caregivers often feel and discover what you can do to prevent these emotions from letting you enjoy life.

Emotion #1 – Guilt

The first emotion that many adult children who care for their parents often experience is guilt.

It’s easy to see why…

For starters, you have a busy life. You may have a full or part-time career, kids, pets, hobbies, and other activities you’re involved in. That’s a lot to manage.

When you throw caring for a parent in the mix, the time you have to focus on your job, invest in your children, and enjoy your hobbies is instantly cut down.

Suddenly you may find yourself wondering…

“Should I really leave Mom at home for 8+ hours a day while I’m at work?”

Or, “I don’t have time to take Dad to his social activity and watch my kid at his sporting practice. What do I choose?”

On top of that, you may also be worried that you’re not doing enough for your parent at home. For instance, are you cooking the right meals for your parent’s dietary needs or providing enough activities to keep your loved one active and engaged?

Clearly, there’s a lot that you may begin to feel guilty about that’s completely out of your control.

Emotion #2 – Fear

If you have a parent who has mobility issues or memory problems, fear is probably an emotion you feel on a regular basis.

What happens if Mom forgets to turn off the oven and starts a firework or Dad trips and falls as he’s walking to the restroom while you’re at work?

This is a very scary and dangerous situation.

Even worse, the constant worry of thinking about what could go wrong while you’re not at home can easily take a toll on your work or the ability to enjoy activities that are outside your home.

Certainly, fear is an emotion that can wreak havoc on those who have to leave the house every day, but it can also be an issue for full-time, stay-at-home caregivers.

Example: You may be home at the time your Dad falls on the ground and hurts himself, but are you strong enough to pick him up and help him get to the medical care he needs?

Or, what if your loved one has memory issues and becomes very violent. With access to knives and other weapon-like materials in your home, this could put you in a very dangerous situation.

It’s completely valid to feel the emotions of fear when worrying about a loved one’s health and safety–and potentially even your own well-being!

Emotion #3 – Emotional Burnout

There’s no denying that taking care of a senior family member is a big job. So, it’s no surprise that taking on this responsibility would add additional stress into your life.

Don’t get us wrong. We know you love your family member and that you might even enjoy taking care of your mom or dad.

However, when a parent needs help cooking meals, getting dressed, taking a shower, getting to medical appointments, and has social and cognitive needs that need to be met, it’s easy to experience emotional burnout.

This type of stress, layered on top of performing well at your job or caring for your family, doesn’t always end well. For that reason, it’s so important to be realistic about what’s on your plate and ask for help when you need it.

Emotion #4 – Embarrassment

Your entire life, your parent took care of your needs, fed you, sheltered you, and taught you how to properly care for yourself.

Now, suddenly, the roles are reversed. Except, instead of you caring for a small child, you’re caring for a full-grown adult.

This can make things like helping your parent shower or use the restroom embarrassing.

As we mentioned earlier, we know you’d do anything for your parent. But, having to have conversations with mom or dad about hygiene or eating proper meals isn’t always a comfortable situation–for both of you!

Emotion #5 – Sadness

There is nothing easy about watching a parent go from totally capable mom or dad to mom or dad who needs help with basic tasks like brushing hair or using the bathroom.

This realization can often bring up feelings of sadness and longing for the days when mom or dad was better equipped to care for themselves.

It’s important to understand that these feelings are natural. Nobody wants to see a loved one’s health or ability to help themselves decline.

3 Suggestions for Coping with These 5 Emotions

  1. Talk with your parent–Find out if you’re meeting mom or dad’s needs and if they are happy and fulfilled in your home. Let your parent know that you feel guilty about not being able to spend as much time with him/her as you’d like. Discover what it is that he/she needs to thrive. Start the discussion about the possibility of moving to a senior living community.
  2. Find extra help–An extra set of hands can go a long way. There are many senior care providers that offer in-home care options. See if you can find one of these providers to come to your home a few days each week to help with mom or dad. You won’t have to feel guilty about not being with your parent 24/7, you’ll also have time to take care of yourself and get your own list of things accomplished.
  3. Help Your Parent Transition into a Senior Living Community–Sometimes the best solution to provide mom or dad with a retirement lifestyle that he/she deserves is to help them transition into a senior living community. In a community you can rest assured that your parent will be well taken care of while also having access to events, activities, and the social stimulation needed to thrive.

If you’re struggling with these emotions, alongside the decision to move your mom or dad to a senior living community, we want you to know we’re here for you.

We invite you to reach out and schedule a time to talk with our staff and visit one of our beautiful communities.

During this time, we’d be happy to help you navigate the emotions you may be experiencing while also giving you any information you need in order to make the best senior living care decisions on behalf of your loved one.

Get in touch with us here.