You hang up the phone and you think that mom seems fine. On your next cross-country visit, you realize she isn’t fine. The house is not fine. Her health is not fine, but she has been hiding it on the phone all these months. Now what? You may need to step in to make the difficult decisions about her health and safety. Here are a few tips on how to handle the role change as you become the caregiver for your loved one.
It’s okay for a caregiver to say “No.” Maybe the “No” means, “I’m tired and feel trapped.” Maybe the “No” means, “I have failed to be all I could be as a caregiver.” Maybe the “No” means, “I can’t do what you want me to do and I feel inadequate.” Or maybe the “No” just means, “ I am so tired, I have to stop.” The word “No” can have different meanings for different people. “No” doesn’t necessarily have to have a negative connotation attached to its meaning. “No” can be understood as a pause, a time for reflection, a breathing period or, “Let’s stop and talk this over. Things need to change.” Exploring the meaning of “No” for the caregiver is often the first step in establishing better emotional boundaries.