Unfortunately, there does come the time in our lives when our parents need our constant care. Not able to live independently without some assistance, we may discover it’s time for us to parent our parents. It’s not an easy transition for any of us. I recall at my mom’s funeral, my oldest son saying to his younger brothers…Well, we need to think ahead of how we’re going to take care of mom (me). That was a strange situation because here I was the person who had just been responsible for my mom’s 24/7 care, finances, health needs, and my son was already thinking ahead to my possible declining years.
First of all, he needs to know that not everyone has to have help in his or her golden years. Many seniors can live independently quite nicely without support from their families. Others like my mom suffer from ill health and need either family care or an assisted care facility. My mom lived alone till she was 88, then realized she couldn’t continue to take care of her home, shop for groceries, drive to medical appointments, etc. without help. Being her only child and living some 200 miles away didn’t help the situation. Not wanting to move in with family and disrupt our lives, mom opted to go to a local assisted care center.
Moving her and organizing all her belongings gathered over a lifetime was not easy. It was extremely stressful and took much patience, probably as much as mom had experienced parenting me. Then helping her make the transition from total independence to living in an assisted care center was even more difficult. As her physical health and mobility declined, she became more childlike. I had to step in and become the all knowing parent-kind, loving and available. Making decisions for her that she didn’t always like or agree upon, knowing she had a terminal illness, and trying to prepare her for death was demanding. How do you prepare your parent to let go of their life and face the fears of their unknown future? You try to do so lovingly, all the time dealing with your own confused emotions of anger and grief. It’s a challenge.
Just as she had spent her life teaching and preparing me for what was ahead, now it was my turn to respectfully try to prepare my parent to depart from her loved ones. (I'm remembering my mom this Thanksgiving, and am thankful for her parenting in my life. Photo above moms l-r: me, my dg-in-law Tina and my mom, kids: Heather, Nathan and Emilee.)