How to Cope with Aging Parents
Recently I’ve had some awakenings to the passing of time, and the reminder that my role of caregiver is only being partially tapped.
It could have been the shock I had when I met a group of women, whom I remember as being vital and energetic. As I approached a sea of wheeled walkers lining the driveway, the ‘Walker Brigade’ was a bittersweet reminder that getting old is inevitable.
Or perhaps it’s watching a friend cope while her parent’s abilities and memories deteriorate. The exhaustion and grief experienced by their families as they watch their loved one helplessly fade away is heartbreaking.
Closest to home was a phone call from my mother. Recent conversations regarding ill family and friends, paired with the lingering threat of COVID-19, generated the need to review her personal, medical, and financial wishes.
As a new parent, I read the books, scoured the blogs, and gathered knowledge to perfect my skills in my new role as a parent. Of course, I was naïve to believe that I was prepared. Trial and error and advice from my support system were the best tools in my tool kit for parenting.
Preparing to help with aging parents
But what about the flip side of parenting…being the child. We naively think that once we become a parent, we are no longer a child. However, there is a significant role as child that we still must fulfill, the reversal of roles, when your parents need you to take care of them.
I suppose we don’t invest the time and energy into preparing for this next stage of life because it’s absolutely horrible to comprehend. Ostriching will not delay the inevitable, and it doesn’t make it easier when you take on this new caregiver role.
In our family, we often make light of death. We joke about the material things we will fight over, like a potato masher. Or tease our mother about spending the inheritance when she makes any purchase. The reality is no joke though. The feeding, dressing, and bathing of your parents is a quick lesson in humility. The fear, worry, and sleepless nights is the debilitating luggage you will carry throughout the rest of your life. But this is certainly the least we can do in payback for all the feeding, fear, and worry our parents did for us as children.
Janet Smith is a proud single-mom of one daughter and a marketing professional who is grateful for her rural roots in the London area.
She is a big believer in connecting with people through laughter and honesty.