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If you’re a caregiver for an older adult, it’s important to talk with your children about the nature of your relationship with their grandparent, great-grandparent, or other older relative.

You may have been taking care of this person for years, and they are a huge part of your life. Your kids should know that they will always be a part of the person’s life too—just not in the same way that they are when they are younger.

Here are a few tips to help you explain the importance of your caregiver role to your children:

  • Start the conversation with a question. Rather than immediately diving into what you want to say to them, start your conversation with your children with a question. Ask them if they have noticed that their grandparent has been behaving differently lately, or if they remember hearing that their grandparent has a sickness. Starting with a question allows your children to express themselves and lets you gauge their understanding of what is going on and how much they understand about it.
  • Reassure them that you love them. While you are trying to explain why you care for your parent, make sure that you take the time to reassure them that you love them and that that has not changed. Let them know that you are still their parent and they are still just as important to you as they have always been. This will help them to feel more secure and confident even when you are not able to be with them.
  • Acknowledge their feelings. Let them know that you understand they are having a difficult time and that they have a right to their feelings. Reassure them that you care about their feelings and want to help them feel better about this journey.
  • Tell them what you do. Your children might not understand what you mean when you say that you care for your parent. They might only associate the things that you do for them as caring for a person and might wonder why your parent would need that type of help. Explain to them the types of care tasks that you complete for your aging parent and why those help your senior stay healthier, happier, safer, and more comfortable as they age. Offer to bring your children along with you so that they can help on a day that you care for your parent if that is safe for them. This can help your children to understand that they are not disconnected from you or from their grandparent, and that they can still play an active role in helping their grandparent enjoy a better quality of life.

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