Caring for Sick or Aging Parents
The same way you spell love to a child…TIME!
I recently spent a week in the house where I grew up. My mission was to visit my mother whom had been hospitalized on and off for months. She just wasn’t getting better in between visits, so I thought I would swoop in and take charge.
Mom is 72, with emphysema, on oxygen, taking 10+ different meds a day, no energy, weighing more than she ever has due to prescription side effects. I am the oldest of three children, a strong take charge kind of women, someone who takes care of business…a doer. But, I am also someone who loves her mother and remembers a time when she was healthy and strong like I am now.
I discovered some things about mom and myself during this week long visit that I would like to share with you now.
1. Our parents want to be independent as long as they possibly can, and you should allow them to do so. They deserve it!
2. Even though we think our parents are strong and can do anything they still need you to hold their hand for no reason, hug them often and kiss their forehead in reassurance.
3. Ask them questions you might think you know the answer to but you really don’t. Like: “what are your favorite foods?” and “which room in your house do you most like to spend time in?” and even, “on a scale from 1-10 how willing are you to do the things necessary to live longer and happier.” (make them think)
4. Take what you have learned from your little Q and A and do something with it! Bring them or prepare their favorite foods. Take the time to clean up and out their favorite space or room. When you get a number to the last question prepare your own health and wellness plan, custom made just for that parent. A plan you know they can succeed in doing.
5. When you visit with your parent/s leave your computer at home, turn your cell phone off and just be there 100%
6. If you are like me and have a parent still living in the home you grew up in or in a house they have lived in for a while, you probably notice it is not as clean as it used to be, things are breaking down, papers and the wash are stacking up and their personal hygiene isn’t quite what it used to be….Your first thought might be to fix everything! STOP! You can’t fix everything and if you try you will only upset yourself and the one you love. Do what you can when you can but please, the most important thing you can and will ever do for your parent is to love them, unconditionally just like they have done for you all your life.
7. Everyone is so busy, working, going to school, cleaning, shopping, but when our parents leave this earth I am quite sure all those things will seem very meaningless. Spend time with your parent/s. If you live out of state like I do, call often, write, exchange emails and when you can travel for a visit and make your TIME count…I just did and neither I nor she will ever forget our visit. I couldn’t fix everything in a week or cure her emphysema but I left her healthy and happy by doing all that I just shared with you.
I hope this blogpost helps you in some wonderful way.