The illness of a parent is an instantly life-changing event. Whether it’s a chronic illness, a degenerative disorder, or a fall—when a parent falls ill, it can be a challenging time in yours and your family’s life. Instantly, you will be overcome with emotions like grief, confusion, anger, stress, and sadness. All of this is normal, but unfortunately, it doesn’t stop the need for decisions to be made.
Once a diagnosis has been made, you will need to start considering future plans and what will need to happen to make sure your parent is comfortable and that their needs are being met.
Here are some things you can do when your parents get sick and require care:
Do your research
After a diagnosis is made, you should immediately seek a second opinion. This is not to discredit the medical opinion of your parent’s doctor, but to confirm what is happening and how it should be dealt with. Once you have a confirmed diagnosis with a second opinion, it’s time to start doing your research. Get as much information on the illness as you can by communicating with the doctors and reading up on the illness. Learn about what you can expect and what you can do to help alleviate symptoms or provide further care.
When a parent is diagnosed with an illness, it’s essential that you have a support system in place—not only for your parent but also for yourself. Going through the kind of emotional turmoil that a parent’s illness can cause means that you will need the support of family and friends to help you care for your parent while still keeping yourself healthy.
It’s also important to admit when your parent’s illness is beyond your capabilities or they require constant care. Companies like FreedomCare offers home care or supplemental care that allows experienced medical workers to come in and care for your parents’ needs in their homes.
Grief is not only for death
Whether your parent’s illness is life-threatening or not, it will most likely change them and, in turn, change your relationship with your parents. It’s not only okay to grieve this loss—It’s essential. Grief is a fundamental coping mechanism that allows us to accept what is happening and move forward.
If your parent is facing the end of their life, know that grief is multifaceted and nonlinear. You may feel fine for a while and then fall into a deep depression, or go through moments of anger or despair. This is all normal, but it’s essential to acknowledge that therapy can be very beneficial to the grieving process.
Cut yourself some slack
If you always keep your house meticulous but have started to let the dust bunnies pile while attending your father’s chemotherapy sessions, know that this is okay. If possible, take some time off work as well to give yourself the space you need to process your emotions. If you find things are going a bit too far and you can’t keep up, know when to reach out to friends and ask for help with basic things like home care and grocery shopping.