One challenge most of us will face involves the dynamics of aging parents. Adjustments must be made as they age. The frequency and size of those adjustments increase as they get into their eighties and nineties.
My family had a pow-wow this evening. Seven of the eight kids showed up. The eighth kid is working second shift in a town seventy miles away. He visited with Mom and Dad earlier and received an advanced preview.
Dad is scheduled for tests and some surgery over the next couple of weeks. The outcome could be a yawner, or a lengthy recuperation, or an irreversible impairment. God, time, his surgeon and his native constitution will determine the outcome.
A few of the more salient decisions:
- Each kid will pick a day to be the "point person".
- On our day, we will drive Mom (and maybe Dad, if he is up to it) to Mass
- We will bring them dinner
- And we will clear the Dry Erase board
- That might entail grocery shopping, dishes, laundry, house keeping....
- That might entail transportation to docters visits or picking up meds
- Mom and Dad will accumulate their needs by either writing on the Dry Erase board or by pasting sticky notes on the board. They are most comfortable with paper and pen/pencil
- We might escalate to taking a digital picture of the board and posting it on social media
- The advantage of social media is that we can see their needs and it might be more convenient to integrate those tasks into other parts of our day...like on the drive in to town.
- There was some concern about dehydration. "Thirst" becomes less reliable as we age and become more sedentary. Urine color works but only if one is drinking enough to produce urine. One solution was to place a set number of water bottles out with the expectation that they will all be consumed before bedtime.
I read about single children tending to aging parents two thousand miles away. My heart goes out to them. Most of my siblings live in the neighborhood where we were raised. One lives seventy miles away. I live 20 miles away. The rest live on the near Westside.
I am blessed to be a member of such a large, strong family. We are not perfect. Like many families we competed for attention when younger and it is easy to drop back into that mode. Also, ten people in a 1200 square foot house means that toes got stepped on, feelings were hurt, needs (OK, in retrospect they were wants, but they felt like needs at the time) unmet. This evening we all became the adults our parents strove to raise.
Brothers and sisters, I salute you.