As is the case with many bloggers, I find writing about my personal situations is not only cathartic but often times will help one of my readers who is facing a similar situation. Currently my topic du jour is being an adult child caring for a parent with Alzheimer’s . As a national family safety and wellness expert, I’ve frequently focused on child and teen issues. But my career has consistently followed my
life path and now I’m becoming well versed in the issues facing aging parents.
I’m not sure what’s been harder, watching my dad decline and succumb to this horrific affliction or standing by as my mom tries to deny the situation and handle it herself. Actually that’s not true – it’s been much harder dealing with my mom. Truth be told, my father and I were never very close. There has always been an emotional dis-attachment between the two of us. My mother, on the other hand, has been my best friend forever. I’ve watched her age before my eyes. Nurses and social workers have all commented about the incredible care she provides my dad. Her love for him is endless and, as a result, she has lost herself in becoming a 24/7 caregiver for her husband.
And now, a bad situation has become worse since he suffered a stroke last month. To her credit I’ve watched her work with him first in rehab and now at home to regain most of his mobility that he had prior to the stroke. She was warned that he would only be able to walk up and down the stairs in the house once per day and that she should have help for all waking hours. But my mom is a determined woman. Not only is he back to walking up and down stairs numerous times but she has him outside taking walks with her. This effort doesn’t come without a price however and, even though she won’t admit it, she’s overwhelmed by the daily chores and inability to have time to herself.
As an only child, it’s up to me to alleviate as much of this burden as I can. I realize that in many families, even when there are multiple siblings, these obligations usually are managed by just one of the adult children. I’ve suggested they move in with me so that I can at least help out more – cook, clean, do errands and care for my dad so she can have some time to herself. So far she’s resisted. With a full time job and three small children at home, it’s hard for me to get down to her house to do these things as much as I’d like to. Even when I can, she declines the help, insisting she can do it on her own.
So, here I sit, frustrated that I can’t help more, sad watching what it’s doing to them and, yes, a little scared of what the future is going to bring.
Are you dealing with similar issues with your aging parents? How have you been able to provide help when it’s turned down from your parents?