I wrote Long Distance Daughter, Part 1 in November 2017. This post continues that thread.
Years ago, I began stepping in more regularly to help my 95-year old mom with responsibilities. This relieved some of her stress and helped her enjoy life more. It was the wise thing to do at that point, and the timing proved providential. She lived a great life of mental sharpness and was always organized. It was impressive and I admired her. That did become more of a challenge by the time she was 95, and we wanted to do whatever we could to support her, make her days easier and safe.
Love looks different as your parents’ age. Wouldn’t you agree, if you are in that season? My mom slowly began to struggle with everyday things that she formerly handled like a champ. She became overwhelmed easier. And frustrated. Technology moved fast and that began to leave her behind, too. She was grateful for the help, and that made this a pleasant transition.
As anyone ages, the world seems to shrink. The capability to care for oneself seems to shift. Activities that were once fun may not be as fun anymore. New activities need to be found. Independent living skills may decline, and that can leave folks frustrated, angry, and perhaps afraid as they give up the control they once managed so well. It takes courage to reinvent daily routines and to find daily joys that are still good options.
Like many of us, we live far away from our loved ones. I lived over 2,000 miles from my mom. Thankfully, getting mail forwarded, setting up online paperless billing and accounts, having her trust in me, and having power of attorney made this much easier. But it was more demanding than I anticipated. Plus, I worked full-time in the Pacific Time Zone. I know some of you can relate.
Thankfully, my brother lived near to her. He was stellar at getting her here and there, from doctor’s appointments, haircuts, to Trader Joe’s and home again. He also provided company through visits and outings. He managed her computer questions, too.
I entered into a steep learning curve, adding duties to my busy schedule, making and getting phone calls during East Coast business hours when I’m barely out of bed in the morning, and updating account paperwork and online setups. Not to mention the emotions involved. My spare time evaporated. These new responsibilities took time and energy. It was my turn to care for her and I was blessed to have the opportunity.
Remember to get the Power of Attorney papers completed and in order for your parents – financial and medical. Do not procrastinate.
It was such a privilege to care for her in this way, but it was a challenge. As a mom, and a good mom, she never wanted to be a bother. Understandably, it was hard for her to let go of duties when it was time. It was never a bother to me. It was love in action, returning all the love she provided for me growing up. We wanted to grant her dignity and confidence that things would work out because we were a team. We were happy to help.
My mom gave us such a great gift when she and my dad were able to move into an independent senior living community years before this. This provided us so much peace of mind over the years. Knowing she had three meals prepared daily, friends to eat with at meals, someone to make the bed and do light cleaning, transportation to appointments when my brother was unavailable, and more. When her area got snowed in, I knew that she’d be safe inside the community. I am so grateful she and my father had that opportunity, especially with me living far away.
For those of you walking with family members in the sunset years, you are not alone. So many understand. There are so many variables to doing this well. There are many experts available with plenty of information on how to handle it all. I hope you can find all the support you need.
May we age sweetly, friends.