Chapter 9

 

Parenting Your Parents: Caring to the End

 

I look in the mirror and, shockingly, find the first lines of unwelcome similarity, the creases and folds of an unacknowledged heritage, and while I do not see a close resemblance—I see my mother’s fear, and learn that it is never too late for compassion.
—Anonymous

 

The Living Arrangements

 

Some surveys suggest that baby boomers likely will spend more years caring for a parent than for their children.

 

Some of my patients would rather deal with their parents’ death than with the hugely guilt-inducing exercise of putting them into a nursing home, which both parties view as a necessary evil, or worse, a living grave. Since most elders haven’t lived, as elders, with their offspring in the first place, Canada lacks a community care model that sustains the frail, elderly living in the homes of their children, with professional caregivers relieving the adult children.

 

While our aging parents may defend their failing strength, vitality, and independence in front of their disbelieving children, what they really fear is dependency on the goodwill and care of strangers. For those midlife children, as well, it is hard to turn that care over to strangers because they are just that, strangers, and no one understands mom like her kids. So, sometimes, a retirement facility that takes parents from the state of "elderly independence" all the way to full and secure nursing care works to ease these transitions, and the guilt.

 

One of the consequences of Canadian women now living to an average age of 80 plus is the many levels of care that may be needed as these women’s capacity declines. The physical deterioration is obvious. But the mental deterioration of a parent, and their regression into senility, is much more disturbing for adult sons and daughters to observe.

 

Yet, I’ve had patients take their aged parent out of a nursing home and assume the grinding process of 24-hour care themselves. When I questioned one of these dedicated caregivers about why she would want to spend money on supplementary oxygen for her mother when it was not necessary and would not delay or ease her mother’s demise, she assured me that her mother did better on it and, anyway, it was her mother’s money. That is, it was a choice made by and for the mother.

 

An estimated 22.4 million US households—nearly one in four—provide care to a relative or friend aged 50 or older or have done so during the previous 12 months.

—National Alliance for Caregiving and the American Association of Retired Persons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

" Middle age used to be a 
waiting room;
Now, it's a supermarket."
--Dr. Jean Marmoreo

The New Middle Ages is filled with the insights and compassion to navigate the middle years.

Such as:

Your body and menopause
Recharging your sex drive
Taking care of your heart
Parenting your parents
The roller coaster of raising teens
Starting a new relationship
The mini mental health exam
Changing jobs

 

The New Middle Ages is filled with the insights and compassion to navigate the middle years.

Such as:

- Your body and menopause
- Recharging your sex drive
- Taking care of your heart
- Parenting your parents
- The roller coaster of raising teens
- Starting a new relationship
- The mini mental health exam
- Changing jobs

 

"Middle age used to be a waiting room; Now it's a supermarket"

--Dr. Jean Marmoreo

Dr. Jean

Marmoreo

 

Doctor. Writer. Athlete.

Advocate. Adventurer.