Can We Help Too Much? The Squiggly Line Between Aiding and Enabling
Dear Carol: How do we know where to draw the line between helping our older parents and enabling them to give in to the challenges of aging? My mom has pain from a severe form of arthritis, and it hurts me to see her struggle to accomplish tasks she used to enjoy or at least do with ease. Even so, I know that if she doesn’t move, she’ll get worse. She understands that I’m willing to help when she needs it, so sometimes I know she’ll take advantage of that. Other times, she’ll refuse help even when I think it’s essential. This seems inconsistent and I get frustrated because I’m not sure what’s best. I worry about her safety when she does tasks around her apartment. but I also worry about her getting worse than she needs to be due to inactivity. Any general guidance? – HA
Dear HA: You’re in good company. I think that most adult children and even spousal caregivers wrestle with this concept. Like your mom, my mother had severe arthritis challenges, including two not-wholly successful hip replacements, as well as essentially collapsed knees. Still, we both knew that if she didn’t move, her joint pain would only worsen, and her ability to do what she enjoys would decrease. This is one of many examples of the “use it or lose it” conundrum…
Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories. “For anyone having to walk the last segments of life with a loved one, read this.” …Delores
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