Q. My mother-in-law recently experience some health concerns. As a family member I wanted to offer support and assist in any way I could. I offered to sit with my father-in-law as he spent endless hours in the hospital, bring a meal over, or help with some chores around the house.
It is not that my offers were ignored, my father-in-law just politely said, “Thank you so much for the offer, but I’m fine.” I may have been overreacting, but I felt as though I was being pushed away. I’m confused by this as it was a very stressful time and all I wanted to do was offer some help.
Is there a different way I should have offered?
A. Parents, for the most part, never want to add stress to the lives of their children and extended families. Parents may do their best to assure children and families they can take care of everything to “protect” the family from added worries and stress.
Aging parents sometimes don’t realize how they can benefit from the assistance and support children and in-laws offer and how it feels when they deny family the ability to be involved in the care of someone they loved and wanted to support.
There are many times when individuals are thrust into the role of caregiving and assume all the responsibility for the well-being of not only the care receiver, but the entire family. In an effort to minimize the added stress of the situation onto family members, what happens is the caregiver denies others the opportunity to be part of the process.
Staff from our Aging Services advise to you to NOT ask for permission to be supportive – just show up. Do what you can to help and be there.