If your parents live long enough, chances are the parent-child relationship will be reversed at some point along the way, putting you in the position of taking care of one of your parents as they once did for you. Some people look at this as a great imposition and seek to avoid taking on such a role, but I relish it.
Here’s a photo taken on my mother’s 98th birthday:
I’ve mentioned my mother from time to time, and many of you already know she’s 98 years old and incapable of living on her own. She lived an independent life into her early nineties, but, although her financial resources allow her to avoid needing my sister and me to help with that, she has gradually devolved from total independence to a state of total dependence in which she needs someone to bathe and dress her, feed her, and transfer her from her bed to the recliner where she spends much of the day.
Since my sister lives some 1800 miles away, she gets here for a week or so every few months, but taking care of Mother’s financial affairs, arranging for her care, making medical decisions for her and so forth are left up to me, and I don’t mind a bit. I couldn’t possibly repay all she did in birthing and raising me, much less all the support she has always given me in my adult life, so I just look upon the present situation as an opportunity for me to do something for her.
As much as I love her, however, I’m not the person to bathe and feed her and do all the other little things she needs done daily. I wouldn’t be very good at it, and it would be a major imposition on my wife for me to try. Enter the professional caregiver.
Somewhere around age 90, Mother began to need help keeping her pills straight and doing her laundry. At that time, she lived in an independent living center, but they had a care-giving service available which we could hire to do these things. After a few years of this, it became necessary to move her from independent living into an assisted living facility.
For the first several years of assisted living, she could still bathe, dress, and feed herself, and use a walker to get around, but she did rely on caregivers for help with a lot of things, such as cooking, cleaning, laundry and such. Nowadays, she is completely dependent upon caregivers for everything except breathing.
It amazes me that there are so many people who are willing to do everything from feeding to changing dirty diapers on people like mother in return for paychecks comparable to working at McDonald’s. What’s even more amazing, is the cheerfulness of these ladies. Well, there are a few male caregivers, but in my experience, almost all are female.
The people who provide care for Mother just exude love. They hug her and smile while doing all sorts of things for her. At her first assisted living home, there were a few whose attitudes weren’t always flawless, but they were very few, and in the home where she currently lives, I haven’t found one person whose attitude is less than completely loving.
My hat is off to each and every one of these people who perform such vital services and do it so cheerfully and lovingly. I don’t think I could do the jobs they do, but I’m certainly thankful that they can and do.
What experiences have you had in dealing with the care of a parent or grandparent?
For more information about David N. Walker, click the “About” tab above.
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Contact him at dnwalkertx (at) gmail (dot) com or tweet him at @davidnwalkertx.