Melanie was a top-selling advertising rep before her mother suffered a stroke and required 24-hour care. Doctors told Melanie her mother would never fully recover and advised her to look into assisted-living homes or home health care.
Neither option felt appropriate to Melanie, who wanted to share the final years of her mother’s life at her bedside and in her own home. Melanie decided to take a leave of absence to become her mother’s primary caregiver. She took her to doctor’s appointments and administered medications. She made the bed and bathed her mom. She read the Bible daily with her.
As time passed, Melanie, 51, helped her 81-year-old mother build a scrapbook of her memories and a will. Although she lacked mobility, Melanie’s mother was able to speak, and they shared decades of memories about her late father and her brothers and sisters. Toward the end of life, Melanie called in hospice to enhance her mother’s end-of-life journey.
Melanie’s choice to stay by her mother’s side was one born of love and respect. It was an intentional decision that many of you could face as your parents grow older. How can you balance work and other obligations with your parents’ needs?
Caring for aging parents is different than caring for your children.
- Emotionally: Raising your children was filled with mostly joy and satisfaction. Caring for an elderly parent can be sad and depressing. But it doesn’t have to be. You can make the journey a celebration of your parent’s life. Consider documenting their accomplishments, memories and thoughts on tape or in scrapbooks.
- Logistically: Where will your parents live? At home with you or in an assisted living facility? Find the best place for them. What fits their comfort zone and yours? That might be your spare bedroom or with a full-time caregiver.
- Intellectually: It’s hard to argue with your own parents. Try to be proactive before your parents retire and discuss their wishes. If there are disagreements, seek advice from other family members or a third party.
Honoring and respecting your elderly parents requires empathy and understanding. In Melanie’s case, caring for her mother was satisfying, but it was hard work, involving long hours and much responsibility. She loved it and never regretted it for a moment.
If you could do ONE THING and know that it would make a significant, lasting, possibly life-changing difference in your life, would you do it? Dr. Carlson shares the power of ONE THING and why you should get started doing your ONE THING today.
Have you taken responsibility for your parents’ care? How is it going? We’d love to hear your success stories. Post your comments below.