Woman to Woman – care for elderly parents

mybutton.jpg“There are many women who still have one or both parents living. As our parents age and move into their 80s and 90s, they often need a family member to care for them. Are you currently the caregiver for a parent? Perhaps you are the caregiver for a beloved grandparent. What have you observed through this process and how have you worked this care giving into your family life? What difficulties have you encountered, and how have you resolved them? What has been successful for you? Share your insights, observations, concerns with us.”

As I started reading the question this time, I nearly didn’t answer. I’m not caring for any elderly relatives. And I don’t foresee doing it in the near future.  My father is passed away and my mother and step father are both healthy and active. And even when they are much older, they have resources to insure a comfortable living. The reason I decided to answer is this – when I was young, before I got married, I worked in a retirement home. It wasn’t one of those nice resort type places, it was one of those ‘had to put her somewhere and this was the only place we could afford’ places. Sad, dreary, hopeless places. I couldn’t work there for very long. My technical reason was the commute – it was in the next town. But I fear the real reason was the hopelessness and the sadness of the place. I was too young and not mature enough to stay and make a difference.

However, that experience opened my eyes and I made a promise to myself that I would never do that to my parents, or inlaws. I realize at times medical care is needed. I also realize that the nicer places with medical care are extremely expensive. But, if there was any way I could avoid doing that, I would. And if there was no way around it and I had to do this, I would visit often and continue to be involved in their life.

When my parents were young and I came along, I’m sure they must have had a hard time affording all the extra expense I brought with me. They took care of me, they didn’t say “I just can’t afford to take care of that baby anymore!” and ship me off to an orphanage. They just made it work. I feel we have the same joyful obligation to our parents.

The cycle of life goes round and round – they take care of us and then the day comes when we take care of them. It’s all part of being a family. For the majority of our history, it was normal for different generations to grow up under the same roof. They all took care of each other. Now, it’s become very abnormal to do this and even considered a burden. How very sad. Older people have such wisdom and experience to share, to pass on to us younger ones. When we go through earth-shattering experiences, they can tell us how they went through the same or similar things. They give hope.

I realize, not having had to do this, you who are doing this might be snickering. Thinking I’m a bit naive, and foolish to make such rash promises. I’m sure it’s harder than I think it is. I have a tremendous respect for those of you who are taking care of your parents (or other relative). I believe it’s part of the ‘honoring thy father and mother’. And what does the rest of that verse say? ‘so that it will go well for you.’ 🙂

Personally, I can’t imagine living a comfortable life, going about my business happily while my mother was in one of those sad places. If this situation comes to reality in my life, I will happily and joyfully take care of my parents, my MIL, my aunt or whoever needed it. God provides. He’s blessed me so much, I can’t help but want to pass that on to someone else.


6 Responses to “Woman to Woman – care for elderly parents”

  1. Lei Says:

    I fullheartedly agree with you!

    Thank you for joining us!

  2. Morning Glory Says:

    What a beautiful perspective you have. I do believe we owe our parents great consideration after all they went through raising each of us. I, too, will not experience giving this kind of care to an elderly parent, but I very much want to have the tenderness of heart that would meet the need if it were there. Thank you for writing this today.

  3. Mom2Two Says:

    I absolutely agree. My parents gave me such a great start in life, I can’t imagine sticking them someplace “out of the way” or letting them suffer. It’s just not right, and I don’t think you’re naive to feel that way either.

  4. Jennifer Says:

    What a nice post, I can tell you have a wonderful, loving heart & I agree with a lot of what you have written. I have mixed feelings on this issue, I don’t think rest homes are the only places where shoddy care happens. My grandma was living in utter filth in her own home, supposedly under the care of an aunt & a cousin. When my parents got there they had to clean feces off the floor and the place was infested with rats. Her insurance would have paid for custodial care-not at a fancy assisted living center, but certainly it would have covered a place where at least someone would have helped her to the restroom and fed her more than one meal a day. 😦 I think whatever the situation, its extremely important to be aware of what is happening, and never assume that any situation is ideal. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  5. Karen Says:

    Jennifer – oh no! 😦 I’m sure you and your family were just appalled and deeply hurt by the actions of her ‘caretakers…?’.

    But you are correct, whatever solution or situation you come up with to care for an elderly relative needs to be monitored.

    Thank you for sharing your experience, I hope it’s much better now.

  6. Gran (Angela) Says:

    What a wonderful post. I can tell that you will be a tender and loving caregiver if the need arises. You share a great perspective in your writing. It is important to montor any aging parent or grandparent’s care if the need for nursing care does come into play.

    Thanks for sharing with us this week.


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