5 Ways to Find Peace While Caring For Elderly Parents

When I was pregnant, I read all the baby books. We often joke about how those parenting books left out details that may have been handy in the trenches.

There is no “What to Expect” guide for aging. In our case, our dad passed away when my siblings and I were just kids. And we never imagined what the elderly years would bring for our mom.

I guess she is frozen in time within my memory. I see her as the same forty-two-year-old woman who was catapulted into the dual role she held. Then I realized that was impossible as I had just hit my mid-forties.

In our situation, my sister, the youngest child, ended up being my mom’s primary caregiver. When our mom’s health and cognition took a turn, I no longer lived close by. To be honest, she managed the care better than I ever could have. I am quite proud of her.

So, how does one find peace while caring (or, in my case, being support staff) for elderly parents? Here are five biblical-based ideas that have helped us.

Acceptance and Forgiveness

The first step in finding peace in this new stage of life is acknowledging that it is hard. From there, we can begin to move toward acceptance and then forgiveness, both of which can help us find peace in the situation.

Accept the situation and the details as they are. Realize that you may find yourself revisiting the need to accept and forgive. Give yourself the grace to do that, and pray over your parents and for yourself, too.

It is important to accept what you can do and what you can’t. It is equally important to accept what your siblings can and cannot contribute and to forgive them for their shortcomings as well.

Remember Colossians 3:12-14 (NIV), “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

Ask For Help/Respite Care

This one is often the hardest. It is imperative to ask for help or seek respite care, either from a trusted relative or through vetted community support.

You must recharge your batteries. You do not need to be a martyr. Your parents would have never wanted you to be, your family doesn’t want you to be, and most importantly, God doesn’t want you to be.

Consider what 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV) tells us, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” Remember, you cannot pour from an empty cup. It is okay, essential even to ask for help when you need it.

Communication is Key

I know communicating effectively seems like a no-brainer. But remember that there are many emotions involved in caring for the elderly. Your parents undoubtedly don’t want to be in this vulnerable position. They never wanted to be a burden.

Your siblings and children have big feelings, as do you. And sometimes, when we feel these big human feelings, we shut down and put-up barriers. This leads to miscommunication, which often becomes the root of arguments.

As they say in Colossians 4:6, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

Try your best when communicating to ensure that everyone feels heard. Peace is easier to achieve when everyone involved, including you, has a voice.

Set Boundaries

This is the one that I find the most difficult. Why do I find the idea of setting boundaries so stressful? I think it’s because I am a people-pleaser at heart. It is hard to say no, especially when your parents or siblings need you.

I feel guilty when I can’t help directly. My sister felt guilty when she could no longer provide the level of care that our mother needed. Neither of us is wrong, nor neither should feel guilty.

What does the Bible have to say about setting boundaries? To go back to the earlier mentioned statement, the Bible says that we cannot pour from an empty cup. One of my favorite scriptures applies here.

Psalm 16:5-9 (NIV) says, “Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely, I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night, my heart instructs me. I always keep my eyes on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore, my heart is glad, and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure.”

To find peace in caring for an elderly parent, sometimes we have to admit when we can’t physically provide the caregiving. We do that by accepting the situation, forgiving ourselves and each other, loving our mama and making sure that she knows we love her. Most importantly, we take it all back to our heavenly father in prayer.

Be Kind to Yourself

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Just as we must accept, forgive and pray, it is necessary to be kind to yourself. You love that parent. You love your siblings. Make sure you show that level of love and compassion to yourself as well.

Living Through the Breathless Moments

This life throws curveballs, and sometimes, we get the air knocked out of us.

The role of caregiver is an important one. It is in those breathless moments when we run out of words to say that we must hold Romans 8:26 (NIV) in our hearts and grip the scripture with all that we have, for it says, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”

Even when we don’t have the words available and our eyes strain from running out of tears, we can go to God, and He will know what we need. When what we need is peace, He is there, willing, and able to provide it.

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