Saturday, January 1, 2011

Caring For Aging Parents: What Will The New Year Bring?

We are starting a new year. None of us have a crystal ball. We start each year with a sense of wonderment and hope. Unfortunately, real life takes hold and memories of warm feelings brought on by the holidays are forgotten.

Worries over aging parents never leave us. As we go about our daily lives, doing our jobs, the thought is always in the back of our minds..."Are Mom and Dad okay?" Whether you live close by or a long way apart, the anxiety can consume us.

For me, my Dad passed away while he was living with Mom in the same house they started their marriage in. Although I constantly checked up on them, Mom was able to take care of most of the load. After he passed, my mother never got over her grief. She depended on me more than ever.

To shorten the story, Mom lived with me for many years until she passed at 95. I don't regret it. Even though there were times I thought I'd lose my mind! (smile)

Which is best? I really don't know. Each of us has to deal with the cards given us. Your aging parents may be still in their own home. Maybe an assisted living facility or nursing home. Close by or miles away. Or living right with you in your own home.

Some of you are part of the sandwich generation. You're taking care of teenagers AND aging parents. That has to be the most difficult!

What will the New Year bring? There will be ups and downs. Perhaps their health will deteriorate. Sadly, this may be their last year on earth. We don't know. But, please look for emotional support wherever it's available. For whatever stage in the process you find yourself.

Take time for yourself. Look after yourself with proper rest and nutrition. These must be your priorities. Losing yourself to look after others will benefit nobody.

Live in the moment. Relish the little things. Take comfort in the smiles, hugs and laughter. When the bad stuff happens, know you are strong and you will conquer whatever is thrown your way.

Life's like that. I wish for you a Happy New Year. Filled with health, love, support, understanding and patience. Bless you all!