Give yourself space & time
Taking care of elderly parents, especially when they are sick and need complete attention may not be totally possible in today’s busy world, and that...
Taking care of elderly parents, especially when they are sick and need complete attention may not be totally possible in today's busy world, and that leaves one feeling guilty and inadequate.
This adds to the stress affecting personal life and professional as well.
All it needs is coming to terms with the situation and finding ways to deal with it, say our experts.
Q: I am a 42-year-old woman. I got married last month. I have a sister, who is married and lives in London. My father suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and is bedridden. I lost my mother when I was 10 years. My father did not remarry and took care of me and my sister. But she does not bother about him. It is mostly because, her in-laws treat her badly, and she herself is a victim. I work, help my father, and I married late because of this. My husband is a very good person and tries his best to help. My problem is that I am unable to spend any time with my husband. I want to be able to lead a normal life, but I am very stressed and unhappy. I have friends who are helping me, but I feel very guilty to ask for help. Although my husband is very understanding, I feel I have not been able to be fair to both my father and my husband. I have a PhD, but I am unable to do justice to my job too. I am getting bad reports from my employer. Please tell me what to do.
A: Hello! Let me first congratulate you on your marriage.
Whatever might have been the various contributing factors for your decision to commit to marriage only now and not earlier, you have done so much.
And your husband seems to be a sensitive gentleman to care for your father as well, we need to look at the situation with more equanimity.
Your father's decision not to remarry was his choice and you must have been only one factor and not the sole decision changing factor.
If you have not vociferously protested and fought that nobody can replace your mother and even if you did, please do not carry the guilt and burden of your father's decision.
Do not try to overcompensate for your sister's inability to care for your father.
You cannot be and should not try to be both his daughters for him.
It is laudable that you want to do your best for your father, but remember, you can do so only when you yourself are in a good space physically, mentally and emotionally.
Presently, your good relationship with your husband can keep you safe – emotionally and mentally.
The worry over your father's care should be looked at more logically.
After all the effort you have put into your academics and earning a PhD, no parent would want it to go waste.
He must be quite proud of you.
So do justice to that and your relationship by focusing on your work by getting some help of a bed-side assistant through any specific service provider or even a specialised geriatric care centre (which does not mean you are shirking from responsibility).
This, in fact, will give you quality time with your husband and you will be able to focus on your work too and as a result, provide quality care to your father without you being exhausted.
Please remember that you are being gainfully employed is what will also give financial freedom in the context of your father's care too.
Also, the initial phase of a marriage is a crucial one.
Do give yourself the time and space to lay the foundation correctly.
There should not be a situation that your husband feels you are sidelining him over your commitments of the family by birth.
Enrol your husband into all decisions.
Together you can reach some balanced decisions.
All the best!
-Dr Vasuprada Kartic,
Anthroposophic counsellor and Psychotherapist.
Ans: Dear friend, I can see your anguish and confusion.
On one side, a father who is Ill and on the other hand is your husband, who you feel guilty about neglecting, the third angle being your work and quality of work.
The stress, guilt and confusion seem to be consuming you.
When stress levels are high, one tends to become anxious, overwhelmed and dysfunctional.
You have a strong sense of responsibility and it seems to be stressing you out.
Let me offer simple suggestions to make things better for you.
1. Practice meditation and breathing exercises for 5 minutes twice a day.
2. Eat regularly and try to get some exercise.
3. Even at work, take short breaks and mingle with colleagues.
4. Find little things that make you happy. Read a book or write in a journal.
5. Make a list of what you are grateful for. Sometimes in our angst, we forget to savour the good things and focus on the bad only. Forgive those who you feel are adding to your stress as they are what they are and may not change.
6. Make a time table for each day, which includes care for your father, work, time for yourself and time for you both as a couple. Sometimes, when you plan things out, things seem to fall in place.
7. Pat yourself on the back and appreciate all the work you do so selflessly.
8. Accept that somethings may not change and embrace this wholeheartedly and you will not be bitter about it.
9. Speak to your sister, friends, cousins anyone who can spend a couple of hours with your father so that you may go out with your husband.
10. Try to employ a nurse or ward boy to care for your father when you are at work so that you can concentrate on work too.
Aged parents complain at first but will eventually get used to having a caretaker.
11. Spend quality time with your father, laugh relive old memories so that his mood is lifted too and that takes the pinch away from the pain experienced in rheumatoid arthritis.
12. Spend time with your husband. With your better time management skills and a support system, which includes a caretaker, friends and relatives, you should be able to relax and enjoy each other's company.
13. Work it out with your sister to visit her father even if she does not help in his upkeep. It will make your father happy and help improve your relationship with her.
14. There is a reason why I started the advice with you rather than your issues in hand, that's because if YOU are empowered, you can do a lot more for your family.
Also, if YOU are able to manage your stress, you will lead a happier and more productive life.
Once YOU are ok; the rest will fall in place.
Do consider professional help if you continue to feel overwhelmed.
And remember." When the going gets tough, the tough get going"
keep on going! You're doing great!
-Dr Purnima Nagaraja
Consultant Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist.
- Do you have any relationship related queries or issues with your friends, loved ones or family? For informed advice by professionals, send in your questions to [email protected]