Being an older adult means there are challenges that come with relating to adult children and harder yet caring for elderly parents. Feeling secure in our relationship, my partner and I can enjoy our later years. For the most part, we are enjoying them, but we both have parents that need our assistance and his experience is much different from mine.
My situation is different
Both my parents are healthy, and I have siblings that help in taking care of them. Even though my partner’s mother is healthy, she is demanding, and he is the only relative available to take care of her. Be empathetic here; realize that your partner is under a lot of added stress during this time and needs your support.
How I provide support
Realizing my partner has to work, take care of his health, and take care of his mother is stressful for him leads the way for many emotions in me. I could very easily let my emotions take control and affect our relationship. I have to remember that none of this is personal; no one is out to get me and my partner is dealing with more than I am right now. Sometimes, being supportive means doing nothing at all. I am a sounding board, a good listener. I do not judge how he responds to her and I do not give advice unless he asks me for it.
I ignore what she says to me
My partner’s mother has recently gone through many changes that are probably confusing her. For instance, we had to move her out of her apartment and in with us temporarily until we had her new place ready to move in. Things went well for about 12 hours and after that went downhill. I would fix a meal and she would refuse to eat; she said I was trying to poison her. She would stand in the doorway, refuse to move, and threaten to call the police because I wanted her to move so I could go through the door. I realize she is older and is probably dealing with some emotions she is not able to communicate. As unfeeling, as this may sound I walk away from her or change the subject.
I take care of myself
Taking care of elderly parents has taken a toll on me. I take time for me and that includes talking to my friends about how I am dealing with helping my partner. Venting to my girlfriends allows me let go of the negative feelings I have. I also make sure to make time for my partner and me to be alone whether it is a date night at home or get out of the house together so we can enjoy one another.
What it comes down to is helping your partner deal with one of the hardest things we all deal with. Our parents get old and death is inevitable. Making final decisions for parents when they need assistance can flood us with guilt and remorse. Talking to friends, family members, and professionals can help us make the best decisions. Letting your partner know you are there for him/her during this stressful times means the world to them. Even if they feel they do not need that support.