Aging Parents

Paul Morrone |

There are many things in life we can control and of course there are so many more that we can't. One of those uncontrollable items is the aging process. It may sound corny but we do get one day older each day and that same dilemma holds true with those all around us. A very emotionally challenging fact of so many people's lives is dealing with aging parents. Many of our friends, family and clients have in the past, currently are struggling with or will soon face this inevitable issue.

The role of most parents is to provide comfort, love, guidance and support to their children. The aging paradigm shifts this responsibility at some point from the parent to the child. Now the child is in the "hot seat" to provide these items to the parent. This shift sometimes happens so gradually that it is not deemed to be an issue. Maybe there is some denial about their true health status. Mom and dad act on their best behavior when in your presence so you don't notice the little things that they may be struggling with. Maybe the house is not as clean, the laundry is backing up, the stairs seem steeper and longer, grocery shopping is like an Olympic event and driving is becoming a challenge. Should they be driving at all? Who takes away the keys?

Maybe the aging paradigm shift is not the issue but a negative health event occurred that is either sudden or gradual. Maybe one of the parents passes away suddenly and the surviving spouse now has to face life and all of the challenges alone. Is the house now to large and is the bedroom upstairs? How convenient is the bathroom? What if the parents are in denial themselves about the need for assistance? Who is now the caregiver? Who will help with the services they need whether they think they need the services or not? Do they live down the street or across the country?  Are they safe at home? Are they at risk of falling? Are legal documents in place to help coordinate care regarding medical treatments? Do they need skilled nursing care and is that provided in the home or should they be in a facility? How much will these services cost and what is their financial situation? The list is seemingly endless.

Family dynamics are significant factors throughout this process. Are the siblings in agreement with what needs to be done and are they the ones in denial? Who lives the closest? Who has the time when juggling their own lives, work and family situations? These are all extremely difficult discussions that need to be dealt with and the research can be exhausting. 

I for sure do not have all the answers and no one does because each situation is different. One thing for sure is having a plan can help mitigate problems. My thoughts and prayers go to those out there dealing with this issue. Know you are not alone and talking to your friends and relatives can be comforting and can also provide insight.

Until the Next Tom's Take...