Aging relatives and parent care

December 25, 2008 by  
Filed under Articles, News

I am sure many of you have spent time this holiday season with relatives and parents who are aging. You see your loved ones a bit more forgetful, less mobile, and more fragile. Yet, there is still that person inside who you looked up to, respected for their individual characteristics, stamina, character, and the way they lived life. I experienced this phenomena this last week. I visited with some elderly relatives during a winter storm. I was truly concerned for their safety if they drove under such conditions. So, I volunteered to drive them around. I knew the freeway would be a safer place because those roads are better maintained, yet, when my uncle adamantly directed me onto the hilly and icy city streets, I did it. I could not bare to override him. After all, all of my life I looked up to him; respected his decision making. But by the time we got to our destination, everyone was frazzled because it was dangerous. Then I was conflicted because on one hand, their driveway was so snowy they could not get out unless they paid someone to shovel the driveway. Yet, I did not think it wise that their driveway allow them out under such conditions. There is such a fine line between helping our aging parents, relatives, and friends and stripping them of their dignity. I now believe that sometimes we must err on the side of safety and take control. I did not. I had the great idea of backing the car in and out so that IF they needed to get out, they could. Well, I got the car stuck in the snow. Jim and I had to shovel the whole driveway to get the car back in. Jim told me that I had made a big mistake because now my uncle would think it was OK to go out. Gently, I reminded them that they should not go out under such conditions. Well, the day after we left, my uncle slid on the ice in a store parking lot and hit another car. That would not have happened if I had used my good sense instead of deciding with my heart. The same thing happened today when my parents and I went to Christmas dinner at a restaurant. My mother needs to be using a walker or scooter, but her pride makes her only take a cane. I did not insist on the walker going and because we went to a different restaurant than planned, she almost did not make it to the table. If she had fallen, it would take at least 2 people to pick her up due to her weight and lymphedema in her legs. Again, not wanting to make my parents feel less mobile and functional than they already do, I did not use my head, I used my heart. If they were children, I would just take over. It is a difficult line to walk. I need to learn to cross over into both sides when it is most appropriate to maintain a good quality of life for all of my elderly relatives, friends, and my parents. I hope that us baby boomers learn some lessons from caring for our parents. We need to acknowledge that body parts wear out, our mind and reactions will never get faster so we need to accept help and utilize all of the gadgets, makeovers to homes, and services without resisting so that people do not need to make a choice between our dignity or our quality of life. As caregivers, we must always do what is right for our parents, relatives, and friends, not what makes us feel safer or better.


4 Responses to “Aging relatives and parent care”
  1. Debbie Burak says:

    There is a hidden VA financial resource available to our veterans and their surviving spouses that can represent over $23,000 annually to help pay for care. The VA’s Improved Pension is a 3-tier Pension Benefit that includes Basic, Housebound, and Aid and Attendance.

    This little known VA Pension has been an entitlement for 58 years sitting idle. The veteran does not have to been injured during his service as this is a Pension and not disability. Currently there are over 2 million widows alone missing out simply because they don’t know about it.

    As the daughter of a WWII veteran I discovered the pension at the passing of my dad. I applied on behalf of my mom as his widow, and she was awarded the Pension. Had we known during the 9 years they were both in assisted care they would have received over $160,000 to offseet the costs of their care.

    I launched 4 years ago with the hope of making a difference for another son or daughter while honoring the sacrifice of service.

    The site is the most respected resource on the subject of Aid and Attendance. I hope this information will make a difference for someone you love.


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