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Setting Boundaries with An Aging Loved One

When a loved one has first made the move from their current home into an assisted living facility, they experience a lot of major changes. Some of those changes are good and other changes are bad. One thing you might experience as a caregiver is that their communication level might drastically increase.

The first week that they move into the new place, they might have some shellshock around the changes that come from living there. They might not like that there is a schedule around eating or being bothered about their medication by the caregivers at the facility.

Challenges like these might lead towards them to calling you and giving updates that you normally never dealt with before. Sometimes, the frequency of these phone calls can interrupt your day and add to your caregiver burnout. So, what can you do when it is your aging parent that is invading your communication boundaries? Set expectations quickly.
Let your parent know what is the difference between an emergency and an update.

The first is something that should not wait to be told to you. The second? That can wait until you go to visit with them in-person or call them. It can be hard at first but helping them know the differences between the two as they are calling you about both will help them better understand. Utilizing current examples of the differences will help in the discussion with your parent.

You will also need to be firm in your communication around those expectations while maintaining a level of respect and kindness. If you begin to confront these boundary issues with anger or tones of resentment, it can escalate your loved one and worsen the situation.

If you have siblings or a partner, update them so everybody is on the same team. It can be challenging if you have a sibling that accepts 20+ calls a day from your parent as it normalizes that communication across the board. If you get on the same page with your sibling about these communication expectations, it will make it much easier. Also, this can be a stressful experience to go alone. If you have a partner, include them on what is happening so they know the emotional support they need to give you.

Once you have decided that a conversation needs to happen, it is important that you decide on a set time and place. If you are walking in for a weekly visit with your loved one and begin talking about boundaries when they expect to just catch up, they can feel ambushed. Avoid this by setting a time to discuss with a preview of what the topic will be.

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