Detachment is a technique that you might run across when talking with a counselor or meeting other caregivers at a support group. It sounds like a painful process, but it doesn’t have to be.
Detaching Sounds Worse than it Is
When most caregivers hear the word detaching, it sounds like it’s a painful process and that it means that they’re not caring about their elderly loved one. This is the furthest thing from what detaching actually is. Detaching involves setting a serious of boundaries in your interactions with your elderly loved one that allow you to continue to care for her without taking abuse or allowing your loved one’s behavior to control your own. It’s a loving process that cares for both of you.
You Can’t Control the Situation
Before you start setting boundaries, it’s important to remind yourself that you can’t control the situation. You can’t control your loved one’s behavior or whether she approves of you or not. You may be able to control aspects of the situation, however, such as your responses to your loved one. But overall, you’re not going to be able to control anything outside of yourself.
Make Your Boundaries Clear and Stick to Them
Boundaries are just that. They’re a mental line in the sand that you’re not willing to cross and that you’re not willing to allow someone else to cross. If your loved one routinely manipulates you or sends you packing for a guilt trip, for example, you don’t have to accept that. Your boundary is that when your loved one starts giving you guilt, you end the conversation. It sounds simple, but it can be difficult.
Plan for Time Away
One way that you might cope with your new boundaries is to walk away for a bit. That can mean, especially in the beginning of your boundary-setting process, that you need to leave often. Having backup from home care providers or other family members means that your loved one is in good hands while you protect your boundaries. This gives you a way to enforce your boundaries much more easily.
As you become more skilled at detaching, you’ll have to think about it less and less. You’ll be able to manage your reactions to your loved one’s behavior much more efficiently.