by Corinne Wnek
It’s been said that the most important job in the world is parenting. When our children are young and need guidance to become responsible and productive individuals, experienced parents seem to come out of the ground like ants at a picnic, ready to offer advice about such things as nutrition, sleep, potty training and later, the growing need for independence.
But less help is available when these exact issues plague our aging parents and we, as their adult aging children, are called upon to ‘parent’ our parents. For those of us with still relatively healthy parents, it can be difficult to watch others struggle with their parent’s physical or mental decline.
Not long ago, I remember thinking how lucky I was that my mother was still pretty good as I watched an in-law go through a heart wrenching time when every day a little more life was ebbing away from her. I began to think about what might happen if my own mother’s health began to deteriorate. Who would care for her? What about my job? And that long put off vacation so badly needed?
It is difficult to watch older, care taker children rearrange their lives, some even dealing with their own serious health issues. Thinking about this stuff was hard but watching it play out in the lives of others was unbearable.
Resistance to a loss of independence is particularly traumatic for the elderly when decisions about nursing homes and assisted living facilities have to be made. Seeing our prents live longer, but not necessarily better, is traumatic for their children, too.
I recently made a decision to take my head out of the sand and come to terms with the fact that there is little gold found in the ‘golden years’. If given a choice, I would stop time. And although the care of elderly parents has many blessings, there are also many burdens as their children age right along side them.
Is this a new kind of mid-life crisis aging baby bo0mers face?
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