Welcome to the Birth of “Aging Parents”
Let me say right off that talking about aging parents is not sexy, nor does it make for a sexy dialogue. Aging is complicated. Parents (having them and being one) are complicated. Therefore: aging + parents = infinite complications.
I should know. I have cared for both my parents and have a license in clinical social work. I worked for a huge healthcare system in their home health department and I heard family stories. Lots of them.
I heard about the kids who cared for their grandparents—and their aging parents. And I heard complaints about the kids who didn’t care. In the privacy of their homes, with oxygen tanks whirring and IVs dripping, I talked to my patients about their cancer, about hospice, about God, about no God, and about running out of money. I tried to explain that you can’t make a narcissistic mother more loving at age 75 (nor should you expect to) and that, no, your father is probably not faking memory loss at 80. I heard patients weep, saw the fear in their children’s and grandchildren’s eyes when the reality of death registered; saw other people get on their cell phones to avoid the conversation, or turn on the TV to drown it out.
Now, for the first time in years (and because The Faster Times suggested I do) I’m writing about my experiences in hopes of understanding the bigger picture of aging—and aging parents (and grandparents)—as well as the personal. What I’m going to do is scour the media and post about news as it relates to aging + parents, and items that about aging that can relate to parents as well. I’ll look at the story with a clinical eye, hoping to shed some light (and insight) on the story behind (and beneath) the story. This is what I think helps us make better decisions for ourselves and those we care about and for.
I hope you’ll find something here if you are caring for a sick parent, a parent who always seems to need help you don’t know how to give (or want to), or a parent who won’t accept the help you’ve offered. I hope you’ll find you’re not alone.
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