- Aging & Longevity
Go Team! Cooperative Family Planning
The aging parent is the top priority.
Aging parents need a strong team for support.
In my daily work, I encounter family members who are challenged by their current circumstances - caring for an elderly parent or loved one. A lifetime of shortcomings and celebrations flood our memories as we look at our parents in the twilight of life. This is a light in which we've never seen them before; it's breathtaking in both a beautiful and devastating way. Some daughters dwell on not having spoken to their mother for years and find themselves in the impossible situation of understanding their mother's needs; some sons struggle with seeing their father in declining health and firmly believe that dad will get better. On occasion, there is the poignant circumstance where the adult child and parent enjoy a strong relationship and work together to find the solution to the care need, or, the child thoughtfully makes the decision for the parent based on their conversations from the past.
My mom's family should make a how-to video. In my 20 plus years of work with seniors and their families, I can count on one hand such an example of cohesiveness. There are six siblings - three sons and three daughters. The eldest, a son, was designated as Power of Attorney and Health Care Surrogate. He discusses all decisions with each sibling. He seeks input. He appreciates perspectives outside of his own. He asks questions of the professionals involved in my grandmother's care and discusses what he has learned with the family. He takes his role seriously and humbly and, sometimes, painfully, as the responsibility still weighs heavily upon him.
Caring for a senior can be all of those things - serious, humbling, and painful. The goal is to find information and support that can buffer the journey, knowledge that eases the frustration, and absolution for our lifetime of shortcomings.
We spend precious hours fearing the inevitable. It would be wise to use that time adoring our family, cherishing our friends and living our lives.— Maya Angelou