Aging Parents-Three Possibilities
It is inevitable. All of us have or will faced aging parents and there is this changing of the guard thing that happens where sometimes we end up feeling like more “the parent” than “the child”. So how do you stay level headed, emotionally stable and somewhat healthy thru this awkward process.
Realize that your process will be unique to you. Use what advice others give you as it resonates with you. And let the rest go! Seriously if something works for you, use it. If it inspires a creative solution/idea in your own life, great! Trust your own innate capabilities to generate solutions and create meaning in your life for you.
- What blew me away at times was the long list of needs my Mother had the last few years of her life. From extra medical appointments, equipment needs (walkers, wheelchair) financial management to caregiver needs. The list goes on and on and on. The biggest mistake I made was to try and get everything done on her list. Everything in my attitude changed when I started just picking 1-2 items on the list to work on. I started doing what seemed most positively life impacting for both of us and just let the rest go. It wasn’t perfect yet there was more balance and sanity, resentments faded and in the end when my Mom did actually die, there was peace.
- Work on your stuff. There was a period that my Mom and I both did a counseling. It was a game changer for both of us. It wasn’t perfect! It wasn’t necessarily pretty! And yet it helped us both to cope with all the changes and deeper than that it helped us to move thru some of the past that was interfering with our present. An aging parent is dealing with the approaching “dying” in a real way or at least the loss of independence, faculties, friends and truly needs support. And we are dealing with extra responsibilities and supporting our parents thru their death. It is an immensely big deal. Whether it is therapy, a support group, or some other creative source of support; having someone walk alongside you allows you to finish strong. I was tired after my Mom died, really tired and yet I was also stronger, emotionally and physically intact and filled with so much gratitude.
- Find 1 activity that works for the both of you, mutually enjoyable and just do it. My Mom and I loved to pile her wheelchair in the car on Tuesday’s and go explore Balboa Park with it’s museums and zoo. What changed was the frequency and the length of our adventures. Getting out allowed the fresh air, the beauty, the distractions to fill us up and share something. Mom and I took rest together on our outings. My need for adventure and exploration was met as we literally explored every museum on “Free Tuesdays”. I would go back to work on Wednesday refreshed and Mom coped better with her long days alone in her house. Again it wasn’t perfect, yet looking at the photos now of our times in the park fill me with a quiet joy.
Next time, discovering how to cope with “anger”