Taking on the role of caregiver for your loved one can be quite the commitment. While you might have spent years living under different roofs, you’ll now be cohabitating with your senior and this can often lead to stress and conflict. Fortunately, there are a few ways that you can minimize the possibility of conflict and one of the best ways to accomplish this is to set boundaries with your senior. How can you say no to the person who raised you? Unfortunately, because setting boundaries with your senior are so difficult, many caregivers end up overworking themselves physically and emotionally in order to avoid having hard conversations. Even worse, many go to extremes, allowing themselves to burn out completely before establishing some healthy rules in the house. These boundaries will ensure that you and your loved one are communicating and still maintaining independence from each other.
Setting Boundaries With Your Senior
Setting boundaries with your senior should be one of the first things that you do while transitioning them into your home. You should sit down together and talk things out. Setting ground rules will help to avoid any miscommunication later on. Be firm in your rules. While it’s normal to feel guilty about putting boundaries on the people that raised you, it’s still important that you set these boundaries so you can avoid serious issues and even caregiver burnout. Setting boundaries early set the tone for the future of your caregiving experience, so make sure that you know how to properly lay down the ground rules for the length of their stay.
Remember That It’s YOUR House
Another major issue that many will have when setting boundaries are limiting the control that your senior has around the house. It’s easy to fall into that parent/child dynamic when your parents move back in, but this isn’t always what your loved one needs. As they age, it’s important that they have a caregiver that is willing to look out for them, even if they don’t think one is necessary. Good boundaries let us maintain an emotional bond of love, concern, and caring without the negative results of desperation, rescuing, enabling, fixing, or controlling. They require us to allow people the freedom to be themselves. In respecting boundaries, we respect each other. Use these boundaries to remind your loved one that you are in charge of the house and that final decisions are ultimately left up to you. Although it can be hard to confront and stand up your loved one, it’s an important aspect of setting boundaries with your senior.
Saying “No” Is Okay
When you start setting boundaries with your senior, make sure that you’re also able to say no to them. Although this might seem simple enough, many caregivers simply are unable to confront their senior and tell them no. Sometimes in life, the answer simply has to be no. If you’re unable to fulfill a senior loved one’s request, say no and be clear about it. Don’t say maybe or perhaps. Just say no. If your loved one is constantly doing something that you feel is disrespectful, or you feel like they continue to violate your boundaries, make sure that you communicate with them clearly, and sometimes a simple “no” is the best course of action.
Guilt Is Normal
Caregiver guilt is a very common occurrence, so it’s important to acknowledge not only when you’re feeling guilty, but also why you’re feeling this way as well. It can become easy to let guilt eat us up, but setting boundaries with your senior is an important part of caregiving that you need to address. Acknowledge guilt when you feel it, let it roll over you then move on. Because, if guilt is motivating you to say yes when you want or need to say no, then it’s limiting your potential to be the best caregiver you can be.