Aging Does Not Have to Mean an End To Independence
At some point in your life you may be faced with the difficult task of parenting your own parent. Often this starts when you notice they aren’t handling issues effectively or are slowing down and showing signs of aging that concern you. Denial can play a part in this, if they simply deny that anything is wrong and won’t listen to any advice. These are very normal parts of the aging process for both you and your parents. It’s a difficult balance for both of you. Your parents see time slipping by and with it, their independence. You start to notice the change but don’t want it to happen. Eventually the need to discuss the issues hits a critical point, perhaps a medical situation, fall or increased forgetfulness. Often adult children start their research on aging at this point in time as it isn’t something that most of us are prepared to do--there are very few classes.
Losing Independence As We Age Is Hard
Think of life in terms of a clock. When we are born, and for the first quarter of our life up until about 3 O’Clock, we are dependent on our parents for everything. Then we start to gain some freedom from them and get to make our own decisions. Some people describe their first bike ride or walk, without anyone with them, as that first moment they felt true freedom. From that point on we maintain our freedom to make decisions and do the things that help us be successful. As the clock edges toward 9 O’Clock some of that freedom can start to slip away. Some of the things we enjoyed may not be possible anymore. In more advanced situations with memory loss they can’t be allowed to move with freedom for fear of disaster. These are very difficult times for the family Caregiver. Having the discussion about taking away the car or moving to a safer place can be gut wrenching. A lot of times our need to protect our parents comes from a continual fear of what might happen to them when we are not with them.
Do You Miss The Family Support
Another element to this is the support you may be getting from other family members. In some situations, there are multiple members of the family that want to be involved and their work together is wonderfully supportive. In most cases, this is not the situation. There tends to be one person that takes the lead and coaxes and works with their siblings to get them to help. In other families, the children live all over the country and you are the only one in proximity to be directly supportive. Many times that work falls on an only child, or no one is willing to help. Criticism seems to frequent these family situations from the people that are least involved.
What You Can Do To Help
By now you might be nodding your head and thinking--”But what can I do?”. Many large organizations, along with the State and Federal government, have identified the plight of the family Caregiver. More resources are being developed and information to help us through these difficult times. We have put together a comprehensive guide to help you with the process. However, nothing can truly help you more than putting together a good support team. Hopefully it’s people in your own family or a close friend. Sometimes it’s a relative or a pastor but it really helps to have someone to talk through your feelings and the situation. They may not have all the answers but they can provide you with a compassionate ear and listen to your ideas. Many times in this process there are no absolute right or wrong decisions. In some situations, another good resource may be your family attorney. If there are existing legal documents, you are well ahead of the game. If there are no legal documents, getting them while our loved ones are legally cognitive is extremely important. Take a moment to read this article that discusses the least you should know about elder law. Being prepared in this way can also help you with the financial hurdles you may face.
Download this powerful guide to help you take care of yourself while taking care of your loved ones.