So today I broach a common topic “parenting parents” some call it. I just know it’s a new season of life. I’ve actually been in this season for some time now but it has come gradually. Well to be completely honest, I don’t know that it has come gradually – I’ve only allowed it to come gradually. It is a sensitive topic as everyone’s relationship with their parents are different so there is no “cookie cutter” approach. However, as I continue through this season and talk with others I am realizing there is a lot of things that are very common. So I’m hoping to open up a safe place to talk, to ask questions and hopefully share information.
Our journey began about 6 years ago when my family began to question whether Mom was really losing her hearing or if “something else was going on.” One day at a graduation reception I ran into a good friend of my parents. She visited a bit and then very cautiously, kindly said, “Jody have you talked with your Dad? We’ve noticed a lot of changes in your Mom?” That was just what I needed to hear. I talked with my brother and then with Dad. We decided to take her to a doctor that specializes in in health care for Seniors. He did an evaluation and then recommended an appointment with a neuro-psychologist to help us determine where we were at with things. My Mom has Restless Leg Syndrome and has doctored everywhere within a driving distance of her home. She took these appointments as more opportunity to talk about her legs. We explained it was a “full physical”. She focused on her legs. She was started on medication for Alzheimer’s Disease. Two drugs to “slow the progression.” She was also given more advice on Restless Legs Syndrome. That made her happy, even though it didn’t help much.
Fast forward to today. We’re leaving in a couple hours to head to their house. Mom has continued to decline mentally, which is now causing “spells” physically. Dad is doing a great job of taking care of Mom but he is so anxious about everything that I believe it will ruin his health. They don’t “qualify” for Medicare assistance in the home. Dad has chosen to pay for help once a week so he knows that he can get away for a couple of hours every week. Today we officially begin to “spring clean” the closets as a start of going through the whole house. I believe Mom will be moving to a local nursing home soon, as soon as Dad is ready. There are and have been so many questions along the way. When do you offer your opinion? Or when do you say, if ever, this is what we need to do? How do you know what services are available in your area? How do you talk with your parents about end of life decisions and finances etc. My Dad has always been very private about all of these things. I give him great credit that he has chosen to ask for help in the last few years and we are learning together. I know it doesn’t always work that way. I met with a step-daughter and mother duo at work last week. The mother was not cooperative at all. The step-daughter really believes her parents are in need of assistance. They are missing medications and meals by her observation.
Ephesians 6 reminds us that we are to honor our parents. Let’s share information in order to encourage each other to do this as we walk through this season. I am taking this approach, “Dad, I’ve never done this before but we will figure it out together.” The Lord gave me those words when our son-in-law was diagnosed with cancer and we were wanting to support them. It is the truth and it helped us there so I’m using the same theory now. How have you approached your parents when difficult decisions need to be made?