Caring for your elderly parents—and yourself too

I want to talk today about an old child’s toy called the Weeble that some of you may be old enough to remember as I do. It was a roly-poly character that rocked when pushed but always came back up. The commercial message was: “Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down.”

I wonder if many of us as caregivers visualize ourselves that way, getting pushed down by a variety of medical events and crises that our loved ones go through and yet we always pop back up. I think this image has both a positive and negative side to it.

Caregivers 'wobble but they don't fall down'

As caregivers, we are amazingly resilient and we can handle lots more than we ever thought possible in terms of physical demands as well as emotional blows that go with loving someone who is ill. We need to pat ourselves on the back and receive a standing ovation for our perseverance. I think we may even want to use this visualization of ourselves as Weebles as we face the daily tasks and strains of caregiving.

Caregivers don't have time to care for themselves

On the other hand, let’s not assume superhuman qualities and forget that we are mere mortals trying to make the very best of a difficult caregiving situation. I have talked to so many caregivers who tell me that they do not have time to really take care of themselves. We are particularly vulnerable to feelings of stress, emotional tumult and even depression.

Get help to deal with your feelings

I want to strongly encourage you to make the time to get help in handling your feelings. Of course, you can work through some of these problems on your own. However, caring for a loved one who is ill can bring up feelings and emotions that you have never experienced before. You may need some outside assistance to help you sort out what you are feeling and to regain some sense of control at a time when you may not be feeling like you can handle what’s going on.

Here are a few helpful resources:

Yes, we all are Weebles with the ability to handle the many issues we face on a daily basis as caregivers. Let’s remember to take the time to get some extra help when we wobble and need an extra push to bounce back up.



Dr. Amy


Related articles:

Five ways to manage your stress

Caring for elderly parents: How to get your siblings to help

Seriously, you need a laugh or two

Emotionally needy parents

The real costs of aging at home

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