Is Raising Children Similar to Helping Your Aging Parents? [Part 2 of 2]
We did it all as parents, but, hopefully, most of us did not do it alone. We reached out to our family and friends when we needed help. We may have had Grandma or Grandpa over to watch our kids or we may have had a neighbor pick them up from school. We sent our kids to day care when we had to work, hired babysitters for date nights, and carpooled with other parents when we could. As our children transitioned from teenagers to adults we reached out to our parents and friends for help and advice. Some of our children are now adults and we find ourselves pitching in to help with our grandchildren as they start the cycle of life all over again.
At the same time we many also find our parents aging and deteriorating both physically and mentally. They are at the opposite end of the spectrum, but, just like our teenagers, they are transitioning as well. Their journey is now aging and the end of life. It’s likely that they need more help these days, and we know that their needs are going to increase over time.
Amy O’Rouke, a geriatric expert and one of my personal heroines, recommends that we face the increasing needs of our parents and recognize that aging is a one way journey – our parents are not going to go “backwards” to where they used to be. She also challenges us to accept aging and not be afraid the end of life. Society does not embrace getting older and we may be uncomfortable watching our parents age.
Don’t miss it! I can tell you from personal experience that it can me a wonderful time to give back to someone that gave you so much, perhaps life itself. Helping an elderly loved one is difficult; don’t delude yourself into thinking that it will be easy. You can expect to be tired, miss time at work, and be frustrated from time to time. But, it can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life – be there!
However, remember that you don’t need to be there alone. Reach out for help - family, friends, volunteers, government agencies, and professionals - whatever it takes. Everyone deserves to age with dignity and that takes support, so don’t be shy about calling for help. Having the right team of people helping you can make all the difference and make this a rewarding and precious experience.
I traveled this road with my grandmother and I have helped hundreds of families along the same journey. You’re not alone and you don’t need to be alone. Get the help you need, and don’t miss this time. Just be there!