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How to Transition From Being a Caregiver to Being an Adult Child Again

Sep 7, 2023

The role of being a caregiver to an aging parent is a challenge many adult children face. Then, when a parent’s needs increase to the point that a move into assisted living may be needed, it often brings about a mix of emotions.

At CedarStone Senior Living, we know many adult children find themselves facing this type of transition with their aging parents. In the Cedar Falls, Iowa area, CedarStone team members are known for providing guidance to adult children, helping them understand the changing dynamics and suggesting strategies for a smooth transition.


Adjusting to New Dynamics

Many adult children are performing a role they did not fully anticipate but have fulfilled to the best of their ability: being the caregiver to an aging parent. You may have spent months or even years with your parent depending on you for decisions and help with daily activities he or she used to do without much effort or thought. Although some things may have been uncomfortable and challenging, you managed to navigate and get things done.

For many families, this role continues to evolve. You may have a new job or a family addition, making it impossible to continue as the primary caregiver. Or your parent’s needs have changed, moving care beyond your skill or ability to manage adequately.

If you have decided that assisted living may be the appropriate choice for your parent, this change marks a significant shift, impacting both your parent’s life and yours. What does this mean for you? Moving your parent to assisted living might feel like you’re taking a step back from your caregiving role. This can be a tough transition, made even more difficult because so many emotions are tugging at you.


A New View on Caregiving

It helps to see the decision to move to assisted living through a new prism: You are now part of a team of caregivers. The good news is that it is not all on you anymore. You still have a role to play, and you can redefine what you want that to look like. You can return to being the loving child you want to be while continuing to provide help and support only in areas with which you are comfortable. And your parent can return to his or her original role: He or she can be your mom or dad again instead of your patient.

Here are some considerations to ponder as you navigate this transition.


How You Feel Is Normal. How Your Parent Feels Is Normal.

Dealing with emotions is a natural part of this process for both you and your parent. Keep talking to your family and the team at CedarStone. We understand the range of emotions you’re feeling. You may find it hard to relate with others at the time, but many people have experienced what you’re going through. You’re not alone. We’re here to help and guide you through the process.


Listen to Each Other.

Listen when your parent needs to talk about his or her fears. Acknowledge his or her concerns and let he or she know you appreciate how he or she is feeling. Share your thoughts and feelings. If this is not possible, just let your parent know you are present and focused on him or her. Be sure you have others in your circle who will listen to you as you share how you are feeling, including all the ups and downs.


Create a Sense of Place.

Establishing a comfortable and familiar environment is crucial to adjustment. It is easier to connect to our new surroundings when we feel we belong. With so much about a move to assisted living being new or unfamiliar, it helps to have what matters most to us. Do include photos of family and friends, artwork, favorite books and cherished mementos. Bring the mugs you know you and your parent love to use when you share time chatting over coffee. All of this creates a sense of place that is comfortable and familiar for both of you. This means you both can relax and enjoy each other. That is still the best way you can provide care for each other!


Make a Schedule That Makes Sense.

This is all about balancing emotions—yours and your parent’s—with what is practical (your schedule and what makes sense at the community). Plan visits that you know are in the best interests of both you and your parent. You should decide, especially during the first few weeks, what feels right to you. Plenty of visits may ease loneliness and stress for you and your parent. Visiting a bit less may help your parent decide to integrate into the community and get to know other residents while also letting you rethink your own time and activities. Neither is right or wrong. A schedule that is thoughtful and makes sense to you will be the right one!


Don’t Jump to Conclusions! Give it Time.

Patience is key during this transition period. New residents and their families eventually recognize the reasons they made a move to assisted living were well-founded. Typically, within a few months, most new residents have adjusted well. It is not important that they meet everyone or do everything in the first days or weeks, but over time, increased engagement is a sign to both of you that you did the right thing. This means you can begin to relax as you adjust to your new reality, too.


Your Community Team Will Have Questions. And They Have Answers to Your Questions.

You now have a team of professionals actively engaged in every part of your parent’s day. But that doesn’t mean you have no part to play. The community team will have questions that you are best equipped to answer. Team members will want to keep you apprised of any changes they observe, and they are there to answer all your questions. Never hesitate to ask. The more you know and understand, the more confident you will feel about how you are continuing to provide care for your parent.


An Advocate Is a Caregiver.

As always, your role as an advocate for your parent continues unchanged. You will play a role in decisions large and small. It is okay to ask staff to knock before entering your parent’s room. It is okay to ask for a bathing schedule to be adjusted. As a partner on this team, your voice matters. Your parent may want to be involved or may prefer you take the lead. You know your parent best—don’t be shy about your thoughts and your parent’s needs and desires. Between the experience and professional advice of your community’s team, your instincts regarding your parent and good old common sense, you will arrive at a win-win for both of you.

Transitioning an aging parent can be challenging, but you’re not alone. If you’re considering assisted living in Cedar Falls, Iowa, CedarStone can help you navigate your evolving caregiving role. Our dedicated team of professionals supports the needs of parents and families by advocating for your loved one, creating a comforting environment, offering services tailored to the individual and crafting a balanced schedule. Contact us today to discuss the options we can offer.