August 13, 2007

Woman to Woman: Dealing With Aging Parents

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There are many women who still have one or both parents living. As our parents age and move into their 80s and 90s, they often need a family member to care for them. Are you currently the caregiver for a parent? Perhaps you are the caregiver for a beloved grandparent. What have you observed through this process and how have you worked this caregiving into your family life? What difficulties have you encountered, and how have you resolved them? What has been successful for you?

I just recently had an experience that goes along with this topic. Last Sunday I received a call from my eldest brother telling me that my dad had been in the hospital. He had all the symptoms of a stroke (turned into Bell's Palsy) and he had "dead man walking" blood pressure. I was really rattled by the news. Of course I know my parents are getting older and my dad and I aren't even close, but it this made me really uneasy.

I'm not a caregiver for either of my parents, nor do I have any living grandparents. But there are small things I've tried to do to help my mom and dad in hopes that what I do is somewhat beneficial. Neither of my parents live by me but only a phone call away and I try to check in often. We do the same thing for my inlaws but with them, my husband's sister has already prepared for "that" occasion so we don't think about it often.

My parents are in their 60's and the signs of aging are becoming more frequent. I have this feeling that my brothers would instantly take care of my dad when and if the time came. At 24 I already know the responsibility of taking care of my mom will fall upon me. I've known this for a long time and I've accepted it. I don't know how exactly that will happen, but when the times comes everything will surely fall into place.

One of the hardest things I see as I watch my parents get older is to hear their loneliness. Oh that awful feeling! My dad does not feel this as much as my mom does, although the rest of my family live right by both parents. This breaks my heart. No one should feel alone especially our parents! So I feel the most important thing I can do right now is spend time with them. I see that that alone is the most valuable as they age. Whether it's time on the phone, time together, or letters in the mail. Time is equal to that of love.

I love you mom and dad.


Crystal said...

You are so right about time being the necessary ingredient. My parents want no gifts for any occasions - just the gift of our(meaning their kids and grandkids) time and the effort to come and see them. Good for you to recognize this and act on it.

Morning Glory said...

Oh yes! Time and companionship make all the difference in the world. No one likes to feel as if their family doesn't think of them and remember that they'd like an adult to talk with. Great post!

Thank you for joining in today.

Jen said...

I agree, loneliness is huge! My grandpa is having a hard time staying lucid all the time, and it can be hard for others to communicate with him-but that leaves him feeling more isolated & depressed. I enjoyed reading your post.

Lei said...

I agree, parents should not feel alone. Ever. And with all our parents have given us, we should be giving back.

mumple said...

My dad's last surviving sister has commented that there's no one left who remembers what it was like when she was growing up--there are things that, right now, she is the last surviving witness to.

I know she gets lonely, and visiting and listening to her stories isn't the same for her.

Angela said...

Great insights thanks for sharing with us. Your parents will be very blessed when the time comes due to your foresight at the present. Spending time, talking, and just listening to story after story will make all of the difference in the world to the aging parent or grandparent.


Trinity said...

Hi Michelle, this is the first time I am here. congrats for being featured in PPP... This post is so true, I often heard old people said that their children have no time for them. That's sad... we do have to spend time and keep in touch with them and don't let them to feel lonely.

And as a mom, we do have spending time with our children as well... sometimes we just got too busy to share our life with beloved ones. We think we are with them, but we are business with ourselves...

Spending time with them means really there with them.

Take care, I am sure your parents are grateful to have a daughter like you!

Keep in touch!