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Monday, December 22, 2008

Parenting Our Parents

Having an aging parent can be compared to caring for a child, but with some significant differences. They are your parent after all and used to being in the caretaker seat. And although everyone reads books on pregnancy and child rearing when they are expecting a baby, are given parties and gifts and advice, few of us are prepared for becoming our parent’s parent. I existed in denial until dawn gradually broke that my mother and I had swapped positions in the cosmos. This year has been a tremendous challenge and learning experience for me.

This fact reached past the current bad weather we are experiencing here in the NW when I received a comment on my blog about Manor Care from someone in North Carolina who has a mom in Manor Care, Tacoma. Their experience at the Tacoma facility has not been as good as that which we had at Manor Care, Gig Harbor and the plea for suggestions has raised some issues in my mind that are worth examining for everyone with an aging parent—for everyone with a parent since eventually they are going to get old. Some of the issues I have had to deal with besides care facilities are medications, equipment, shopping and security.

If you have an aging parent or believe they will one day be elderly, visit my blog The View From My Broom.


Lorraine Hart said...

In retrospect, my brother, sisters and I have realised we should have been having this conversation a number of years ago...but no one wanted to have it, especially my parents.

You and I, being caregivers already, have a bit of an edge on the order of hoop-jumping for what our loved ones need...but elders have some different needs. Maintaining their dignity as elders is really important.

It's hard to feel this far away and not able to help much, other than the phone connection...for my parents and for my eldest sister, who volunteered as their caregiver so that they can stay in their house as long as possible.

The important message is for families to have these discussions, difficult or not, in the years before any help is needed.

Stephanie Frieze said...

The experience of having my parents age, and the in the case of my father, die, has caused me to make my wishes known on subjects none of us enjoy addressing, but it is possible to find compassionate care and assistance for the elderly that preserves their dignity and gives their children some peace of mind that they are doing the best they can for their parent. When the Great Depression and WWII mobilized our society and scattered families around the country they lost their built in support system. We have to view our community as extended family and I know that you've been involved out there on the Key in helping to maintain your elder residents. Even though you aren't on hand to help your own parents you're helping someone's. :-)

Lorraine Hart said...

It's my good friend Edie Morgan who is doing great works for Elders with her Mustard Seed Project on Key Peninsula. My hat is off to her.

It's strange to know, though I have sung a few people through their deaths and been able to give them comfort, this is not a gift my parents would accept from me.

Stephanie Frieze said...

Oh Lorraine, I would. I would accept.

Lorraine Hart said...

You know what has always been one of my dreams? A beautiful facility with lots of property for gardens...where, not only do the Elders receive the honour and care they deserve, young people come to have their babies...completing the circle. The Elders who are able could give so much knowledge and support where there might've been none. The babies give love right from the source and their parents make the connections.

Yeah, I'm ready for the Think-Tank of Change.

Lorraine Hart said...

If I'm able when you should have my promise on that Stephanie. This was a large part of my calling to walk in the service of Love.

Stephanie Frieze said...

A wonderful idea, Lorraine and a wonderful promise.

I would be happy with buying a van when we move to the beach so we could take/do elders shopping/errands. A center that honored the circle of life is a wonderful dream!