When we are babies, most of us have parents that care for us, teach us, guide us and give us advice on how to grow up and take care of ourselves. Parenting is the hardest job one will ever love and it is not for wusses. Once we become adults we can choose to be parents or not. Either path is great and no one should ever judge the other. Let’s just love one another more, shall we?
Some of us end up reversing roles with our parents when they age. They don’t want it and we don’t necessarily want to do it but it happens to many of us. Sometimes, like in my case, you become the caregiver when your parent is diagnosed with terminal diseases like cancer. He was already a widower and to put it mildly, his family is shit. Sorry – not sure how else to succinctly tell you in this short post. So, my sister and I helped him transition from his home to mine, the hospital, the rehab center and at his request his home for Hospice. It was painful but an honor to help the man who raised us and I was grateful we could manage it. Not everyone can and again -no judgement EVER – it’s hard enough.
Some people move in with their parent as they age. One of my friends is unmarried (by choice), child free (by choice – you go girl) and generous beyond words. So she moved in with her mother. At first it was mutual as she was in a transition and then they realized they really enjoyed each other’s company and it benefitted both as they split bills. Then, as the mother aged and developed health issues it was definitely helpful for them to be together and now, she still lives with her mom as she ages and heads toward the latter years of her life. I think it is an amazing gift she is giving her mom. I have such admiration for her. Her other siblings are married with children of all different kinds and I know they appreciate that she is doing this for all of them.
Some people can not move in with their parents or move their parents in like I did. So, the next option is to provide paid health care. My best guy friend arranged for a private caretaker for his mom in her own home. This was definitely more comfortable. She had to do stints in rehab places, had to stay in hospital for several reasons, but really felt most comfortable in her own home. Unfortunately, assistance like this is expensive and even though she had planned well and was able to pay for several years, the money started running out. Now, he has the hard decision to make to put her in an assisted living facility. No one is excited about this.
Because he is an amazing human, of course he found the best out there and is now busily buying furniture and other items to make her “apartment” more homey and comfortable. Yes, he has siblings and no they are not helpful. He has an amazing niece though and he has me, his “non-blood” sister and my husband close by so he does have support, thankfully. Watching him go through this process brought back memories of my Dad but thankfully I am at the end of my grieving so I can handle it. Plus, it feels good to be able to share what I learned with my “brother”.
No one likes this part of life. No one wants to get old and sick enough to need help doing daily tasks. Everyone hopes to just die in his sleep. My mom died quickly from a heart failure. Two of my friends lost their fathers to heart attacks. My husband’s grandfather died suddenly as well. Sudden death is jarring for anyone but sometimes I think that it is a gift in that there is not long suffering or needing to depend on healthcare professionals. I know I personally hope I will not know I’m dying and that it will be swift for everyone’s sake. But we don’t get to choose do we? I wish we could. I truly would if I could. I’m so type A, I would put it on the calendar. LOL
My friend’s mother, my “brother’s” mother, my husband’s grandmother are not “sick” by any specific means. They are just old. But when you age, there are things that slowly become harder and harder to do. At 54 I already have trouble getting up from the floor and I’m not elderly. For these folks, it is hard to accept they are not spry and it is often demeaning to have to depend on others for simple tasks. All three of these women have provided for their spouses, their children and so many people. They are strong women. Now they have to depend on someone else and it must be very hard for them. I’m a strong woman and I can’t imagine having to depend on others for daily chores.
But, sometimes we reverse our roles. We care for the caretakers when we can. If we can’t we help in any way we can. It is not an easy stage for anyone involved.