So recently I opened the door to talk about the season of life where we, as adult children, become intimately involved in caring for our parents. I had no idea last week that the changes would come so fast. I spent last Saturday at my parents home. We “spring cleaned” my parents closet and dresser. I’ve said several times since then “who knew my Mom was such a clothes horse?” Okay, so I did know she loved shopping and clothes but I hadn’t realized what she had accumulated! Shoes too! I should have taken photos, it might have helped my case next time I want to go shopping. Anyway, I brought a chair in and had Mom sit there just outside the closet so I could try her shoes on her and figure out what she really needed. I called her Cinderella and we laughed together. She was soon distracted by the jewelry sitting on her dresser next to her. That’s where she spent the rest of the afternoon, sorting jewelry. Meanwhile I sorted and cleaned the closet. By the time we got through that project it was time for supper. As I cooked I took the junk mail out of the spice drawer and threw it away. I found yeast dated 2005 in the cupboard with some seasoning I was going to use. It was then that I realized that my mother’s mind and been disintegrating for longer than I had imagined. As I shared, in the beginning we didn’t know if it was hearing loss or loss of mental capacity. Nobody really wanted to say anything. It might offend someone. We did the best we could once we made up our mind that it needed to be looked into. Dad was actually relieved to have someone help him care for Mom.
I would encourage you if you are an adult child with questions regarding your parent’s health to ask them. It can be done. One way to approach it is to tell them that you love them and you want them to have the best quality of life for as long as possible. In order to do that we need to be as pro-active or preventative as we can be. So annual check ups, hearing exams, exercise and good eating habits are top of the list. How can you encourage them in these things? One way is to be an example. Another is to ask them about it, talk about these things and the time to start is now! Start while your parents are young enough to do something about their habits. In America we over-indulge ourselves daily. Our portions of food are too big. We finish something and we treat ourselves to a big dessert. We sit too long in front of the TV. And the biggest over-indulgence in my book is we try to cram too much into one day, every day. Who says we have to do “everything”? Start building that “healthy” relationship with your parents today!
Are you aware of your parents health challenges? How have you learned to talk about them? This is something the majority of us will face in our life time. Let’s talk about it.