What About Our Aging Parents?
There is a frightening trend that I've noticed of late, maybe it's something you've noticed too. What I'm beginning to see is that the majority of the under fifty generation, seem to be disconnected from their aging parents. I don't know if this is considered the "me generation", but that appears to be the trend, me first, "you" (aging parent) later or when I have time. I have also seen that my generation, the over fifty and under seventy appear to be the last generation that take personal interest in, and care of their aging parents. Some of us don't need a lot of personal help and time from our children at this stage of the game. However, from what I see we are to be most pitied when we do.
What I've Seen
I've seen friends and relatives of my generation extend personal care to their aging parents. My mother lives over two thousand miles away, however we speak on an average of four times a week. Some weeks it's everyday, especially when I feel she is not at her best. When she is really ill I will fly to her side in a heartbeat. Fortunately that isn't very often, however I try to visit her at least twice a year, even Though this is a financial hardship for me. But I reason that she is the only real mother that I will ever have. This is not to pat myself on the back, for this is just what I should be doing. I watch one of my barely ambulatory friends spend the better part of her life taking care of her aging mother, who lives over thirty miles from her. She will drop everything and "hobble" to her mother's side, even though she has relatives better able to take care of her. She divides her time between her home and her mother's home, but she feels that her mother is her responsibility and she takes that very seriously. I applaud her for that.
My mantra to friends of my generation is "don't think that what you are giving out you will get back in kind, don't think that your adult children will do the same for you."
I am not saying that it will be the case for all of us, but be prepared for whatever happens. If your children do take up the baton and run with it, it will be a pleasant surprise, however, if they don't you won't be disappointed. I've been suggesting to my friends, and implementing this myself, that we make a life for ourselves apart from our children. What we (a lot of us are single, either through death of a spouse or divorce), are doing is beginning to group or partner with one or more for fun and support. It has been suggested that all adults, especially those of us that are single, have an advocate. particular for medical reasons. Take them with you when you go to the doctor, even if you are married, the advocate should be someone other than your spouse. The reason given is that sometimes your spouse is so use to hearing your complaints that they turn a deaf ear and won't really hear when you have a legitimate complaint.
Back to what my friends and I are doing. By the way we are all women, (this also can work for men). We have what I term "Old Girl Pajama Parties", movie nights at home,tea parties,we attend theatrical plays, the movies, lunch, dinner etc. Sometimes we just sit around and talk, which is very pleasant, because we all have similar interest. We live in Southern California, so the outside activities are numerous also, however where ever you live, you can make up your own fun. This is a wonderful time in our lives, and we don't want to miss a minute of it, sitting around complaining about what others are not doing for us. So as we are aging, we can make the best of it.
Make no mistake we have born and raised some beautiful and wonderful children. But the system that we are living in dictates something different for our young people. Life seems to be demanding that we keep a pace that is nearly impossible, and still care for our loved ones. In most cases the loved ones are the children of our children. Don't get me wrong, that's not a bad thing, I applaud young parents that put the interest of their children first. However, it would be a good thing if they could learn how to multi-task. I'd like to add here that there are exceptions to this rule, some young people are still connected to their roots, and they appreciate from whence they came,(I have some in my family).
Back to the issue at hand, to the young among us, this will be you one day. Slow down, 'smell the roses,' and spend some time with your aging parents. Think, one day you could be sitting around bemoaning the fact that your children are not there for you. I am remembering a wonderful song of, maybe, the 80's, "The cat's In the cradle,and the silver spoon", by Harry Chapin. If you don't know the words, Google it and see what I mean, very sad song, one we don't want to live either on the front side or the back side. Meaning we don't want to look back and regret that we didn't spend time with our children or parents. This is also good advice for those of us who are aging. So may we, young, and aging take these words to heart and remember who we are, where we are, and where we will be.