12/20/2021 | By Seniors Guide Staff

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency

In this edition of “Ask Amy,” advice columnist Amy Dickinson addresses a loving daughter is experiencing stress in caring for her parents – this exhausted caregiver deserves a break, counsels Amy.

Dear Amy:

I hesitate to admit this, but I’m tired of hanging out with my elderly parents.

I live an hour from them, while my two sisters live five states away.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, I’ve been the caregiver. I’ve driven my parents to the family’s two-week beach vacation (and stayed with them), flown with them to a wedding (and stayed with them), and celebrated their anniversary on a week-long trip (and stayed with them).

There are also weekly dinners, shopping trips, and birthday parties.

Now we’re staring down the barrel of Christmas and a spring wedding, and I’ll again be responsible for getting my parents there – and staying with them.

At 86, my mother is extremely anxious for months before an event. I understand, but it’s exhausting.

Since every event might be “the last,” I go along to get along, already mourning the times she won’t be present.

As a sensitive person, I deeply feel this sadness.

This Christmas, I’d like a break from the tradition of traveling to my sisters’ state.

I would like to put my parents on a plane and head with my husband to an art show far away.

When I floated the idea, my husband said, “But you love to be with your sisters – there’s a light in you with them that you don’t get anywhere else.”

Related to ‘Exhausted Caregiver Deserves a Break’: Tips on getting help from a home care agency

Maybe, but it also means I’d spend two weeks in a house with my parents.

Then again, it might be the last time we’re all together!

Sigh. With your calm and clear perspective, can you help me navigate the stress of what feels like an enormous emotional minefield?

I’d appreciate learning how to disengage a bit without feeling guilty. Or sad. Or pressured.

– Maxed Headroom

Dear Maxed:

I’ve been there. And, while you might believe that your current exhaustion, frustration, and stress will somehow help you to miss your folks a little less after their passing, it doesn’t seem to work that way.

All of these tasks, chores, and trips are further bonding you to them.

And this, my exhausted friend, is the heartbreaking equation of caregiving: The more you give, the more you lose.

I suggest taking your folks to your sister’s house, but you and your husband should stay in a rental house or hotel. Let your sisters take the lead.

Hang out for a few days around the holiday to enjoy your family time and then – go away!

You could then come back around to pick them up. Or, yes, let one of your sisters bring them home and stay with them for a few days (or weeks!).

If doing this will lead you to torture yourself, then don’t do it, but this is what you must tell yourself (because it’s true): If you don’t take good care of yourself and get a reprieve from your stress, you will NOT be able to take good care of your folks.

Respite is vital, and it benefits everyone.

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers – ranging from when an exhausted caregiver deserves a break to DNA surprises. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.

© 2021 by Amy Dickinson

Click here to read more Ask Amy columns curated for a baby boomer audience.

Seniors Guide Staff

Seniors Guide has been addressing traditional topics and upcoming trends in the senior living industry since 1999. We strive to educate seniors and their loved ones in an approachable manner, and aim to provide them with the right information to make the best decisions possible.

Seniors Guide Staff