Aging Parents–Tugs on our Hearts

Aged-parents-1-hands When you’re young, running here and there, carefree as ever, the thought of having to spend time caring for your parents is the last thought on your mind. Our parents “are always okay” in our minds, at least, until the day comes when you can see that they aren’t dealing with things as they use to. The aging process takes it toll on everyone; it’s just a matter of time.

We are all dependent on our parents to learn the basics, have our immediate needs taken care of, guidance through thick and thin as well as support once we leave the nest. To think of our parents in any role other than what we are used to, is nothing but foreign to our way of thinking, but a reality during our lifetime. Watching a parent beginning to lost touch with daily living is hard to fathom, but who better to help them or to assess the situation, than their own flesh and blood.

The Mayo Clinic website has a great online article regarding aging parents and signs to watch for: LINK to Mayo Clinic 7 Warnings Signs of Aging (Rt Click)

1)”Are your parents taking care of themselves?” Are they tending to their activities of daily living, such as personal hygiene, keeping the house and yard up?

2)”Are your parents experiencing memory loss?” Do you see a change in memory?” Short term or long term memory loss –forgetting what they’re saying mid sentence, not recognizing family members, forgetting where they were going etc.

3)”Are your parents safe in their homes?” Are they able to bathe without falling? Are they able to walk up/down stairs?

4)”Are your parents safe on the road?” Are you visualizing an exhibition of frustration/confusion while your parents are driving?

5)”Are your parents losing weight?” Are they cooking? Are they eating? If so, is there an underlying health issue?

6)”Are your parents in good spirits?” Do your parents stay in touch with family and/or friends. Are they involved in their social groups? Do they have hobbies they are working on?

7)”Are your parents able to get around?” Do your parents have problems with arthritic/joint issues keeping them from walking around. Has their vision been checked lately?

I, as well as my siblings, are personally dealing with our parents in this stage of life. It can be gut wrenching at times but so rewarding when your interventions keep them functioning on their own with quality of life the driving force. We feel their trust in us to be an honor and privilege and take this job rather seriously. We are out of the mold that when one calls, we drop what we’re doing, no matter what, and head to where the need is.  It gives us comfort to control this for them and reassures our parents that we are there for them.

There are many events that could change the arrival of ‘time to intervene in our parent’s lives.’ Good health, obviously, can prolong the day of intervention. On the other hand, illness might call for us to step up sooner than planned. Regardless, we need to be prepared for anything and everything, but before that time, we all must spend time talking with our parents to understand what their wishes are. I can’t state the importance of this enough. Let your parents make their decisions (as long as they can), even if you have to personally do the work to carry them out. Its but a small price to pay when one looks back over a lifetime of sacrifices they made for you.

We do want our parents to age with dignity and the best rule of thumb is let them be in control as long as they possibly can. Its hard enough for them to accept loss of control over different aspects of their lives/freedoms, but with our patience, respect, love and support of them, they will age gracefully as well as will be most appreciative. Remember, your children are watching and learning from you and the better job you do with your own parents, the better the guarantee you  have on how your children will treat you.

 

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