I just recently met a lady who is trying to figure out what to do with her mother who just had a stroke. She seems to be eager to learn what to do, but does not know where to go or what to do next to ensure that her mother gets the proper care. I gave her the information I had, but I would love to offer her more! Please post any advice or tips you have for someone who is just embarking on the journey of having to care for a sick/aging parent.
NOTE:This forum was not created to cook up ways to treat aging parents as children, but to create a list of things that every newbie needs to know when they are first looking to care for their parents. I hope this clarifies things. : )
One thing that struck me about "parenting your parent" is that just because someone is ill (or in the case, had a stroke - or is even healthy but elderly), it doesn't mean she's a child. People need to find a way to provide care that doesn't amount to treating the person as if s/he is a child.
My mother was bedridden for over a year at the end of her life. She hadn't had a stroke, so she could talk and express herself. She would say, "The hardest thing is that you feel like the same person you've always been on the inside, but you can't do the things you want to be able to do." I know she was scared, and I know she felt a sense of loss to see life slipping away from her. People in that kind of situation don't need others thinking of "parenting" them (as if they're a child) on top of the rest of the stuff they're dealing with.
Maybe I should change the title, because that is NOT what I meant. I mean taking care of your parent as they took care of you. I go out of my way to ensure that my mother holds on to as much of her independence as possible. I advocate for her and and for others who struggle through this unfortunate phase in their life. I took on the responsibility of taking care of my mother much like a new parent does when they have a child. I am merely speaking of the role reversal that happens and how we must rise up to provide for them and protect them in the same way they did us. I am not at all speaking of belittling our parents and simply telling them what to do. My intention was to get information on how to better care for our parents, especially for someone who is new to it. I see that you feel strongly about this as I do and I hope that you are not turned off or offended by the title. Love and Respect
I know you weren't (and I didn't mean AT ALL to come across as if I thought you were (being "belittling"). I know just what you meant. I think where it can get tricky, though, is that there's only role reversal in some limited areas (particular when parents are still mentally able to "be themselves"). There were times when we'd try to protect our mother, and she'd feel as if we over-stepping our bounds because she would say that she knew what she was willing to put up with, and if she didn't like something she'd stand up for herself. I didn't at all want to come across as if I found the title offensive. That was more a matter of a "here's what comes to mind first" kind of response I did, but it was more like a "word association" thing (trying to come up with ideas) than an indication of anything else. Now I feel bad. Oh well, I think we all know that all most of us ever want is to make sure elderly/infirmed parents get the best care and love. (Sorry I did my occasional "weird choice of wording" kind of thing. )
Phew! I was feeling bad. I have a few hubs with that title and I was worried that it might be off putting! Don't worry Lisa, we're good : ) I know exactly what you mean. My mom is still pretty capable of taking care of herself, which makes it hard sometimes to know when to step in and when to let her handle it. It is such a thin line that we walk on when we have parents that are not an extreme case.
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