What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, as the old adage goes. The saying sounds odd in today’s culture, but its meaning is quite applicable as we consider a double-standard that sometimes occurs among caregivers and their loved ones.
If you’re like many caregivers whose care recipient is an elderly parent, no doubt that loved one has attempted to instruct and set a good example for you over the years. “Brush your teeth.” “Do your homework.” “Be home by curfew.” Now, as the roles of parent/child seem to have reversed, you find yourself to be the one delivering the “orders” in an effort to ensure safety and quality of life for your parent. “Let me help you do that.” “Remember your medicine.” “No, you wore that yesterday.” Trying to talk a loved one into following your advice for his or her own good can be such a challenge, can’t it? Take, for example, an older person who has fallen and has been told by the doctor to use a walker for increased stability. You try to underscore the urgency of following doctor’s orders, but your loved one refuses to comply, absolutely convinced that a walker is some sign of weakness, loss or inferiority. If your loved one is resisting any of your wise counsel for their best outcomes, you might be frustrated, if not exasperated at times.
As difficult as it might be to work with someone who cannot see the empowerment represented in using a walker and therefore is refusing to use one, think about the times that people have made recommendations to you about your role as a caregiver, underscoring the urgency of taking care of yourself. They see your need for respite, they have made comments about taking care of yourself, and they have offered to help you multiple times. Have you politely declined? Flat-out refused? Perhaps others have suggested that you call CICOA to ask about services that might be available for your loved one. Have you postponed making the call? Like your loved one resisting the walker, have you equated asking for help with some sign of weakness, loss or inferiority? Your resistance might be just as frustrating and exhausting to those who care about you as your loved one’s non-compliance is to yourself.
Whether the geese and ganders ever get it figured out, caregivers need to listen to wise counsel, just as they would hope that their loved ones listen to them. Remember, help for the caregiver represents empowerment, and empowerment increases the potential for improved quality of life for all concerned!