Caring For Our Parents 3 Tips To Help Us

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GrandDaddy loves a chocolate milkshake from McDonalds or Zaxby’s! I try to surprise him with something when I visit.

When I was a young child, or even a teen and college age, I rarely thought about the future of my parents’ health, should they be blessed with long life. Now, as a fifty-something woman, the care of our parents has been in my daily thoughts for the past two decades. Just as Mama and Daddy wanted what was best for me as a child,  Donny and I have always wanted what is best for all of our parents as they have aged. While both of my parents are now gone, we are taking care of Donny’s father, our children’s GrandDaddy. Don had found a small Assisted Living in his hometown of Thomaston, Georgia, and he was really starting to blossom there. However, in mid-March, after becoming very ill with double-pneumonia, we had him brought to our town in an ambulance. He has been in Marietta since March 14, 2015. First in CCU, then in a regular room, and currently in a nearby rehabilitation center to help him regain his strength. Having taken care of my parents with the help of five siblings, Donny and I have noted the greater challenge that has come with him being an only child. We are now on the search for the ideal Assisted Living Home in our area for Don to live.

Everyone has a story when it comes to their aging parents, and I have heard many in the past few years. It is that season of our lives when the tables are turned and we are looking after the welfare of our parents just as they looked after us when we were coming up. We are finding ourselves on college visits paired with geriatric medical appointments, planning weddings coupled with choosing homes for our parents, taking our parents’ keys while sharing our cars with our teens, celebrating grandchildren while taking care of parents.

One of my friend’s Dad is now approaching his mid-nineties, after his wife passed away in late 2013. He is frail and ready to go and yet he tells his daughter, “I don’t know how to get off this planet!” Another parent, a Mom, still lives at home with around the clock care and because of her dementia,  is sometimes unkind and delusional. A church girlfriend has had her mother living with her family for the last five years since her father passed away. When I gave her mom a hug on Mother’s Day, she seemed perfectly fine. However, after talking to my friend on the phone, I learned that her mom has become proficient in hiding her dementia, her short-term memory, when she is in public. Like my own Mama, many of my friend’s parents have suffered with cancer and other debilitating illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s and Heart Disease.  As I have cared for parents that have passed on and I’m now helping my husband look after his father, I would like to share three tips that have helped me and I hope they will help some of you who are taking care of aging parents or grandparents:

(1) PRAY     If you’ve read my “pages from joan” at all, by now, you know that I am a “pray-er”. As I take care of Don, visiting him often, making sure his clothes are clean, looking for his next home, I have found myself sending up arrow prayers more than usual. Prayers like: “Please direct my path.” or “Please order my day Your way.” “Please stretch my time today.” or even simple prayers like Anne Lamott’s book, Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers. “Help”, “Thanks” and “Wow” are all beneficial prayers.  Reaching out to God steadies me and allows me to be an encouragement to my father-in-law.

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There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”

Sophia Loren

(2) BALANCE YOUR TIME       Fit in some kind of exercise, walk the dog, take a run, do some yoga poses, play tennis or golf. I have been trying to get to my Bikram Yoga classes more and this really helps me to stay balanced in my thinking. Stay balanced by having some time off for play, recreation, bubble baths, rest, a cup of coffee, glass of wine with a girlfriend or some leisure reading. Take breaks from visiting your loved one. Rotate your visits with other family members or friends.

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My sweetie is away for a short, guys’ diving trip. So happy he is having a chance to do something fun for himself!

(3) COMMUNITY-STAY CONNECTED     This life was not meant to be lived without others. We all need community and this is especially true when we are looking after our aging loved ones. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Be intentional about NOT isolating yourself away from others. Call and share concerns with friends and family. While hanging out in senior communities, take advantage of the wisdom that comes with age. Slow down, actually listen and visit with your loved one and other residents.

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Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”

Ephesians 6:2-3

As you have gone through or are going

through this season of looking after

 aging loved ones, what tips come to mind

that you can

 share with all of us?

Please consider leaving your thoughts

in the comment space below.

We can all

 benefit from sharing our

ideas with each other!

6 thoughts on “Caring For Our Parents”

  1. So many of us, whether new to the ranks of “seasoned citizens” or long-time members, have been or will be faced by the rigors involved in caring for an aging loved one. These tips are both timely and helpful. The task can be overwhelming. Having a support system, be it friends, family or colleagues, is not merely important, it’s imperative. Keep up the good work, Joan!

  2. HI Josh! You are so right…we need each other for support and advice, too. Thanks for being such a great writing teacher and an encouragement in my life journey.

  3. Wonderful comments Joan. We can learn so many things just watching and listens to our seniors. There are so many lessons to be learned from their road traveled. While working in the field of senior living, I have found that most people just want love and attention and something each day to give their life meaning and purpose. I know that you and your siblings took excellent care of your sweet daddy and I know that you are doing the same for your father-in-law. Blessings to you and Donnie as you seek God’s will.

  4. Sandy told me about this post and I’m glad I had a chance to read it. You have written wise and helpful advice for this season of life that so many of us are finding ourselves. More than ever, I am reminded to live by the Martin Luther quote, “There are only two days, this day and THAT day”…the day we see God face to face. Living this day, one day at time, allows us to see the gift in each day…and there always is one. Thanks for your encouraging words!

  5. Dear Lesly, YOU and Joe VanHorn, and ALL of the staff at Atherton Place were amazing with our dear Daddy in the six years he made his home there. He was so happy there and felt safe and contented up to his passing at the ripe old age of nearly 94 when he passed in Tranquility Hospice on Veterans Day, 11/13/13. WE were so blessed and you know if there were space at Atherton now, we would have DaD Page moved there in a NY minute!
    YOU are so right about all the wisdom we can reap from hanging out with the oldest members of our communities. They are dear and desire our love and attention, no matter how this may alter our schedules/lifestyles. Thanks for stopping by here, Lesly. Atherton is so blessed to have you as a part of their team!

  6. HI Cyndi! It is always so wonderful to hear from you! YOUR love and wisdom through the years has meant a lot to me!
    MY prayers for your father’s PP (peaceful passage) continue.
    Any you know, I LOVE this Martin Luther quote …so true and one to consider each and every day. It never ceases to amaze me that people who lived so long ago (1483-1546 for M. Luther) have messages for us that are pertinent and applicable to our lives today. love you, friend

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