I had the privilege to take care of my mother during her last five years. I made on behalf of her food and medicine shopping and visited the bank for bills. When needed to go the hospital, I was with her. She died in a hospital at the age 80 (2006).
Here is some advice for you how to take care of your aging parent.
You’ve always looked at your parents as adults. Adults that were perfectly capable of taking care of themselves and you, as well, if that became necessary. It is always a bit of a shock when the day comes that you realize that YOU are now the adult in the relationship.
Your parents have grown old. They don’t see very well, they don’t hear very well, and their steps have grown slower. It is often shocking to a grown-up child when the day comes that they realize that Mom or Dad or both don’t always remember to lock their doors or take their medications in the right amount and at certain times. It is REALLY shocking when a grown-up child realizes that those able, reliable, and conscientious parents don’t know what day of the week it is, whether they remembered to eat lunch or not, and have no idea who the president of the United States is or if their electric bill was paid.
Caring for aging parents is no task for sissies or the weak of heart. It takes courage, and it takes diplomacy that would put Henry Kissinger to shame. Elderly parents must be led to do the things that they need to do if at all possible. They can’t be told or ordered around like children, because even though they have become childlike in many ways, they are not children.
The care of elderly parents is easier if the parent is cooperative. If the parent is not cooperative and insists on continuing to buy everything a telemarketer calls to sell them or opening their door to strangers, it’s harder. It’s not impossible, but it is harder. Sometimes grown-up children have to take legal steps that they would rather not ever even have to consider (like having a parent declared incompetent) in order to get the legal right protect their elderly parents from danger. It really is a tough call!
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