Raising Your Parents

September 9, 2013

One of the hardest things to witness is seeing your parents, once vivacious, decisive, and socially active, incapable of making even the simplest decisions for themselves. The aging process can be very hard on parents and children, in different, but equal measure.

It can be the crippling symptoms of disease or just the disorientation associated with old age, but somewhere along the line you may find yourself in a role reversal, parenting your parents.

All of a sudden, your advisors from childhood become the ones needing advice. Writing a check becomes a major task and they may not be able to think clearly enough to know how to manage their money.

When your parent has dementia, that’s especially hard because then you’re not only dealing with the daily problems associated with those behaviors, but you’re also dealing with their doctors, their prescription drugs, and their insurance claims.

It’s especially difficult when your parent doesn’t recognize you or calls you by someone else’s name and you realize that s/he is responding to you as if you were a stranger.

No one wants to die in pieces. Everyone would like to have the health and vitality of a woman who was in the news this week. She just turned 105 years old and a day later, renewed her drivers license with flying colors. She has a perfect 86-year driving record with no accidents, parking, or moving violations.

An anonymous fan heard that her 1997 minivan was having lots of breakdowns and needed many repairs, jeopardizing her ability to continue volunteering at Direct Relief, as she has for the past 40 years so he gave her a brand new 2013 Honda Civic.

She has a delightful sense of humor and credits her longevity and vitality with having a positive attitude. She’s also the oldest person on Facebook and loves technology.

This woman is an inspiration and a model for how we can grow old gracefully. If I had to take a guess, I’d say that the combination of her positive attitude and her volunteer work with the humanitarian organization, Direct Relief, whose mission is to improve the health and lives of people affected by poverty, disaster, and civil unrest, is the reason she has aged so well.

This is someone who will never need her children to parent her; she is a remarkable woman who is capable of accomplishing great things.


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