For most people family is everything. They are the individuals who see us at our lowest and who share the greatest joys with us in our lives. They are there for celebrations and for the everyday stuff that sometimes, gets the best of us. When we need a shoulder to lean on, we turn to family. It’s the unconditional love that can get us through anything because we know at the end of the day,
It’s the unconditional love that can get us through anything because we know at the end of the day, family is there no matter what. They are all that we need. However, even with all the love that we exude for our loved ones, sometimes situations and circumstances happen that test the unshakable bond that connects us. This is especially true when dealing with a parent who has a chronic disease and for whatever reason, refuses to take care of him or her self.
It’s hard seeing someone that you love not only go through sickness but also not do his or her part to get better. This has been my reality for the last few years as my mother suffers from complications from diabetes. It’s not easy seeing her go through the ups and downs of having the disease and add in the fact that she doesn’t do what she’s supposed to do most days, it can be damn near impossible to cope. It’s in the moments when death is literally knocking on her door, and my brothers and I don’t know what to expect because her sugar is so low that she is unresponsive and the paramedics are on their way that resentment and apathy can set in. “Why don’t you just do right mom?” is what I say to her and myself over and over. As I’ve dealt with this situation, I’ve come to realize that for some people with diabetes or who suffer from the complications of managing the autoimmune disease properly, it’s not always as simple as taking their meds and eating right. As a loved one, I have to be patient. I can’t just blow up and go off when things aren’t okay. I have to be empathetic.
Dealing with a parent under these circumstances can be taxing and worst of all, it can be depressing. But I’ve found that the approach I use and the way I view what’s happening makes all the difference in the world from day to day. So if you are in the same boat and feel like you are at your wit’s end with a parent who just won’t take care of him or her self, here are some tips on how to better handle your situation.
Don’t Give Up
I know it can be easy to say, “forget it” and just leave your parent to his or her own devices. I mean, after all, they are grown. But know that even though they may not always show it, what you do does matter, and they do appreciate it. I say keep working diligently because it is helping.
Manage Your Expectations
In the beginning, my brothers and I were determined to get my mother better; to cure her of her diabetes. We bought kitchen items so that she could cook healthy foods. We moved into her house to help look after her, and we spent money on wholesome foods so that she could eat better. We believed that doing all this would solve the problem, but ultimately it didn’t. Your parent has to do his or her part to make it all work, and when that doesn’t happen, the best thing to do is manage your expectations. At this point, I am not giving up on my mom, and I don’t know if she’ll ever truly manage her condition so I adjusted my expectations of healing to maintaining. Keeping her levels within a certain range and making sure she eats at least three meals a day is a win in my book.
Consider The Possibility of Undiagnosed Mental Issues
For a long time, my family and I were extremely frustrated with my mother and what seemed like her unwillingness to take her meds and stop eating things like candy. Then my aunt and I considered that perhaps there is a mental health issue that is actually inhibiting her from understanding the reality of her plight and thus making it hard for her to take care of herself even when given the tools to do so. In my mom’s case, she suffers from severe depression from losing her job a year ago as well as un-dealt with stuff from her past that all contribute to the often hopeless way she deals with her diabetes. Knowing this is a start to getting to the root of the problem. It brings perspective.
Be Patient and Have Some Compassion
Being patient and not giving up are two different things. You can continue to do what you are doing to help your parent, essentially not giving up, but have a negative, resentful, frustrating attitude. All of those feelings are understandable, but they don’t help. Being patient and showing compassion is approaching the situation from a place of love and understanding. Trust me, I know it’s a whole lot easier said than done. This is where managing your expectations come into play. When you do all that you can, and things still don’t improve, draw from compassion, not frustration, to get you through. At times you will feel like you are just going through the motions to help your parent merely survive day to day and the truth is, in the moments, that’s enough.
I want to encourage anyone going through a similar situation. Our parents don’t always listen to us and even in the most trying times when dealing with a loved one’s sickness, just know your efforts are well worth the possibility of them one day seeing the light and taking care of their health on their own.