Aging Parents

Several blogs that I read have been discussing challenges of caring for aging and ill parents and I was reminded as I read my latest book, Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science by Atul Gawande, of the challenge of making medical decisions not just for ourselves but for our parents.

Two years ago Keith and I brought his father to live with us and cared for him in the months before he died of complications from Leukemia. One accusation his mother would make was that it was *easy* for me because I was a nurse. Well I hadn’t worked as a clinician in 10 years and caring for a family member at home is different anyway. It was very rewarding but certainly not easy.

My Mom lives alone in Virginia and so I’m also struggling with how to be there and available to her when she has health issues. Having the flexibility to go help her when needed is one of the reasons I choose not to work outside the home.

For those readers in the group these are the books that I found helpful as I cared for Keith’s Dad and I as continue to try and be there for my Mom. I would also suggest that you obtain a copy of your parent’s living wills and make sure you understand what their wishes are. Some of the most difficult decisions we made were possible because we knew they were what his Dad wanted.

How to Care for Aging Parents
Caregiving As Your Parents Age
The 36 Hour Day: A Family guide to caring for persons with Alzheimer Disease, Related Dementing Illnesses, and Memory Loss in Later Life

And the book that helped me most when it was time to let Keith’s dad go.
Dying Well: Peace and Possibilities at the End of Life by Ira Byock, MD

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8 Responses to “Aging Parents”

  • Betty J in OKC:

    My Mom’s lived with me for the last 6 yrs. Currently, she’s got mod-severe Alz. She still knows me, but forgets where the bathroom is. LOL! The most important thing I’ve found, when being a caregiver, is to NEVER lose my sense of humor. Last night, Mom was sitting up asleep on the sofa. The new commercial for M&M’s Dark came on and she was bobbing her head to the music. I just cracked up laughing!!!

    Quilting has also been a sanity saver, ever since Dad would go into the hospital 3-4 times/yr for his Congestive Heart Failure. I always made sure to have a baby quilt going, so I could easily “grab and go” with Mom and him to the ER anytime of night/day. Mom enjoys me creating quilt-tops and using the quilts when they’re finished. I am happy when I can create quilts!!!!

    Betty J in OKC

  • Pat:

    Great post. For those who are interested in more about being a Gen Sandwicher, please visit my blog at http://www.generationsandwich.blogspot.com.

  • Belém:

    Thanks for sharing your experience. It is common to see posts about children caring but not about how to care our aging parents. My mother has Parkinson disease an she lives far away from me. It is my father who takes care of her but I want to bring them to my house as soon as my father agree with this decision.

  • Tanya:

    Yes, that was a very informative post and it is nice to remember that there are other people who have the same daily problems and trials. I’ll check out the books you recommended while I’m in the States this summer. It’s hard to think about but this is the age we are.

  • Kathy Wagner:

    Thanks for these references.
    I am in the same boat and it is not “easy” no matter who you are or what your training is.

  • Longevity Science:

    Thank you for your interesting post!
    I thought perhaps you may find this related post about new article by Atul Gawande interesting to you:
    Longevity Science: The Way We Age
    http://longevity-science.blogspot.com/2007/04/way-we-age.html

  • jenclair:

    Thanks for the links! A subject many of us are dealing with now. After dealing with my mother’s lung cancer and death, my father’s Alzheimer’s has continued to speed up. He goes downhill more rapidly each week.

  • Ciceilia:

    I too care for my aging father, so I know the stress everyone faces with this task. I have researched many articles to find a better solution and some of the things I have found have been very helpful. I wanted to share this information with all of you, because emergency personal alarms were thought to only be effective in nursing facilities, not many people realize how effective and available they are for home caregivers. I have researched Phillips and ResponseLINK and have found that they offer a 24 hour representative response system that provides not only emergency responses, but everyday wellness checks. I opted for ResponseLINK because they do not require a long term sign-up and have found this to be very useful in not just emergencies but also for simple everyday things like reminders for medication and meals.

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