What Is Role-Reversal Like When Becoming a Caregiver?

Let’s face it, change is hard for anyone. It’s adjusting in the most spontaneous manner and being hopeful that all involved will be grateful and actually “like” the process. This was not the case for my husband, nor myself when we faced what would come with adjusting to living in the same house with my parents. You begin with the basics and learning where you’ve unpacked things, learning where things go, but I would like to reflect on what it was like for my parents, then for my husband and myself.

For my parents having to lose some of their independance was very difficult for them. They both knew what it meant, but to have it actually settle in, did take a toll. The physical part of moving my parents was easy, now the mental part, was another story. There had to be compromise on both ends for it to work, but for my parents, they had their old habits and trying to “break” them from that was not happening. They are set in their ways, but it was during this time that they were both “processing” it all. My husband and myself were ready to keep moving forward, but my parents had paused and remained that way for three months or more.

They wanted their Independence and kept bringing up that they were moving back to their home again. We had to revisit this topic many times. They felt they were a burden, despite how much we reassured them they weren’t. They hit a time off depression, which affected us as well. My parents were battling with the fact that they were experiencing “role reversal” and had to come to terms with it on their own.

My husband and I thought they would be delighted to not have to worry about paying another bill ever again, but we were mistaken. It was a harsh reminder to them that the roles had changed and I and my husband were assuming their parental role. They had lost control to the major parts of their lives and their child was now the decision maker. It was a struggle for them both, but they gradually settled in.

For my husband and myself, it was assuming the responsibility of two other lives and everything that comes with it. This included all case management: Doctor’s visits (Eye/Dental/PCP), handling their Medicare, doing their taxes, renting their home and managing that property, rides, phone calls, tending to them when sick, minor surgeries, shopping for clothing and anything else that they needed. Handling their mental health issues like depression, was so hard because we also had our children who were three and 18 months old that needed us, just as much. Our privacy had come to an end. This was a trying time for us, but only through the strength given by Jesus, did we get through!

When it came to the kitchen, my beautiful dishes were broken because their reflexes are not the same. So, we bought some new dishes made of Melamine. I was resentful at first, but quickly grew to love Melamine dishes. It solved our little quirk and that was a check to mark off my list. My parents felt “useless” so we decided to give them chores. Once they had “assignments” to complete, they felt better. It was necessary for them to feel useful and I didn’t realize how much it helped me get some extra housework done, too. I didn’t realize that by doing everything for them, they might not have felt part of the household, but after, their anxieties went down and things began settling.

Everyone’s mentality changed, we had all began a new chapter to our lives. In one way, we were scared of the unknown, we were in uncharted territory and the challenges were daily. Putting one’s foot down, in love, will be necessary, always reminding loved ones that certain decisions are made with the best intentions and nothing else. New chapters are always difficult, but as long as you remain on the same page with your spouse or helper, things will be easier.

If and when you find yourself in this scenario, be aware that there will be struggles and challenges. Find support and accept the help when it comes. No one can do it in their own strength, you must depend completely on Jesus because only He can refill your strength and give you the wisdom, guidance, knowledge and the discernment you will need to go on each day. Satan will try his best to break you, but with Christ, we can do anything. Know that becoming a Caregiver is pleasing to the Lord and it will not go unnoticed by Him. The key is to keep Christ as the center of this new chapter of life and always reflect upon what His Word says when it comes to decision making. Your hospitality and loving kindness is placing a treasure in heaven that will not be reaped here on earth, but when we face the Lord one day. Keep your eyes focused on that because as difficulties face us, they are only temporary, when compared to the eternal rewards we will receive from our loving Savior, the rewards that count eternally!

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