Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Switching Roles with Parents

At some point in our lives we already have, will in the future or currently are caring for
 an elderly parent in some fashion.

I am most fortunate to still have my Mother living, as most in my circle of friends and
acquaintances no longer have their parents.  Since my Mother, at 90,  is in excellent health,
can still drive a vehicle, prepares her own meals and does the crossword puzzle (in ink!),
 I am not yet a healthcare giver, but, rather, a companion and helper.

As I do not have a sibling who can assist me, the responsibilities remain mine alone.

I start each morning with a telephone call to my Mother, to make sure she is preparing for
the day.  We then discuss what errands she may like me to do with her, what needs fixed
or replaced around the house.  Sometimes we will make plans for a breakfast or luncheon,
although that is becoming more rare.  If I have something planned and cannot get over to
visit her, I make sure she knows what I am doing and where I will be.

All of her friends have passed on.  Almost all of the relatives (except her sister and brother in
law) also have passed on.  She has no peers.  At her age she has also seen the most dramatic changes
in our society.

She started first grade with President Roosevelt and he was still the President when she graduated!
She learned to type on an Underwood manual typewriter, made telephone calls through an operator, and went to the "talkies" for a nickel!!!!  (In this day of technology it is hard to fathom any of this!)

She lived in a small town in Chester County, Pennsylvania where every evening she went with her
girlfriend to the drugstore where they sat at the counter and had a soda or malted (milkshake).  Her
world was shaken when World War II began and all the young men she went to school with went
off to fight.  Several of these young boys did not return.  Her idyllic childhood came to an abrupt

Fast forward seventy-two years......

It gives me pause to think what it must be like for her to have outlived all those within her circle.

And while she still holds tight reins on her business matters and oversees the care of my dependent
brother, I find myself becoming the leader or guide now as she would lead and guide me so very many years ago.

I see a bit of a change-over in roles with my own daughters, as well.  Three brilliant, independent,
caring women who are kind and generous and adore each other!  (I am so blessed).  They do not
require guidance or counsel from me.  I do hope as I age, I can be gracious when I slow down and
am not so capable.  Most of my friends voice this same fervent wish.

This life cycle of our children picking up the mantle and carrying on while we begin to step aside is
both heartening and sad.  Particularly sad because most of us still feel quite young mentally!  I know
my Mother feels that way.  It is for this reason that I acquiesce many times in situations where she
is quite authoritative.

It can be frustrating and even exasperating at times when dealing with the elderly, especially when it comes to anything technical in our society!    However, I try to always keep in mind that one day that will be me trying to express myself, my wishes and possibly not understanding.

 Having a parent in a facility can be somewhat cost-prohibitive.  The custom of having the grandparents reside with the family has somewhat changed in this country in the last twenty-five years or so.

When my girls were young they used to say, "We have a place for you at Shady Oaks, Mommy!"
Unfortunately, I think "Shady Oaks" may be just too expensive now!

P.S. One of my daughters just telephoned me asking for my opinion!!  I am on Cloud 9!


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