Caregiving: Our Parents, Ourselves

From Patti Shea
The dos and don'ts of caregiving are tricky to maneuver, said Virginia Morris, author of "How to Care for Aging Parents," but if done right it can be rewarding to all involved. Planning ahead is key, Morris told an audience of AARP members -- most of whom, by a show of hands, were or have been caregivers.
Morris advised open communication with aging parents, and counseled against addressing them as if they're children. After all, she said, "they're still your parents."
Instead, she said, "be direct," she said, and ask a lot of questions about their past and future worries. Ask them for advice and get them talking about how they cared for their own parents. And be forewarned: "You won't settle this in one conversation." But hang in therre, she said, and "don't be discouraged. You've planted the seed. This will be an on-going conversation."
Above all, Morris suggested, take care of yourself by setting limits, asking for help, spending time with friends, and exercising and eating well. "You have to learn to say 'no,'" Morris said. "And dump the guilt, especially you women."

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