Dr. Gwendolyn Goldsby-Grant visited Wriggling in the Middle to discuss how relationships evolve with parents as you become a caregiver. You may know her from television or radio, she is private consultant and public speaker. Dr. Grant wrote an advice column for essence magazine that was read by over 8 million readers.
Wriggling: How can you recognize changes in an aging parent that might suggest that you will
become a caregiver?
Dr. Grant: One of the things you must recognize the change in your parent. There are independent, dependent, cooperative, uncooperative parent. You need to pay attention to what kind of parent they were and what they are becoming. That will be the big clue to you. Treat your parent with respect even when you see these changes, it will help you be a better person and observer.
Dr. Merle: You need to act on it when you see these changes, it’s hard to come with the terms that your parent is changing but the faster you act, better off you are.
Wriggling: What kind of emotions do caregivers typically deal with?
Dr. Grant: One of the main issues is guilt. They are not doing enough or doing too much or neglecting themselves. Guilty is false emotion, it’s not real. It can’t change the past or alter the future – only you can do that. There are other emotions underlying the guilt. Find out why you are feeling so guilty and solve it. Acknowledge it, identify your own needs, then be kind and patient with yourself. Ask for help, and focus on the good you have achieved as a caregiver.
Wriggling: How do you handle caregiving, when you become almost like a surrogate parent to your own parent?
Dr. Grant: The key word is respect for the parent, because as the dynamic does not change just because you are a caregiver. Yes ma’am or yes mother is still appropriate even if the parent is being difficult. It reminds a parent of their parental role when you assure them that their role is secure. You must create the secure reality they have had their entire lives. It is what you say and how you say it. They will forever be your parent, and just because you’re a caregiver you cannot be the domineering person.
For more from Dr. Grant, like her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dr-Gwendolyn-Goldsby-Grant/185113008177621
or read her biography at http://www.speakersaccess.com/gwendolyn-g-grant.