It’s Friday night and just as you’re walking out the door for a much-anticipated evening with friends, the phone rings. It’s your elderly mother calling for the third time that day, asking if you would pick up some items from the store and drop them by her house.
- How do you decline without feeling guilty?
- How can you be a consistent and loving caregiver while setting effective boundaries?
- How do you politely explain that you have a life?
Explain Your Limits Anne Rosenthal, Director of Community Care Management at the Reutlinger Community for Jewish Living explains “To combat the guilt it’s important for you to acknowledge all you are doing for your loved one and to establish healthy boundaries. These are limits you can explain to delineate what you are willing to do and what behavior you will tolerate. If you’re going against your own personal values to please the person in your care, allowing him to take as much as he can from you or letting him direct your life, you aren’t setting healthy boundaries.”
Without clear boundaries being established, caregivers often stretch themselves too thin, feel like a doormat and put their own needs aside. Lack of clear boundaries can lead to increased stress, depression, anger, low self-esteem, addictive behavior and burnout.
Be Prepared with a “Fiblet” If, after you and your loved one have discussed boundaries they continue to be resistant, Rosenthal suggests offering a “geriatric fiblet.”
“A ‘geriatric fiblet’ is a white lie used to spare the feelings of an older person,” Rosenthal explains. “Telling your mom you can’t come by because you’re headed out to a work-related meeting would be a geriatric fiblet.”
Joy Loverde, author of The Complete Eldercare Planner, says an integral part of caring for a loved one is setting healthy boundaries and ensuring that you’re also taking the time to care for yourself. “Caring for a loved one can challenge the best of us—mentally, emotionally, physically, even financially,” she says. “When caring for a parent or spouse, guilt often takes over and dictates how much you do.” She suggests asking yourself,
- Do I need to do this for my loved one or can she do this for herself?
- Is this a priority?
- How do I feel about doing this?
- Am I doing this out of guilt or necessity?
- Am I the only one capable of helping my loved one?”
The answers to these questions can help you create healthy boundaries through a development of greater self-trust, self-respect and self-care.
Taken from an article by Linda Childer