Thursday, May 13, 2010
Old Age is NOT for Sissies!
I've heard this saying for many years, but it has begun to ring more true with every passing year of my life. When your parents age, it can be a heartbreaking thing to watch. It creeps gradually, then all of a sudden, you look at them closely and it has arrived. Then you look in the mirror, and it is apparent that it is creeping upon you as well. It is inevitable of course, for all of us. I've mentioned how fortunate I have been to still have my parents, who are 95 and 87. I have been absent from here for some time because I have been spending time with them and with my sister, who has been trying to help them for the past couple of years. The past two weeks have been a blur, from the time I arrived to see my Dad installed in an assisted living center after his rehab for a broken hip and hip replacent surgery. The second day I was there, we spent 4 hours with our Mother in the emergency room and she was subsequently admitted to hospital with severe pancreaitis and kidney infection. She spent 3 days there, and we were told it was pretty serious. She will most likely have to have gallbladder surgery. My sister and I spent this time driving...driving from her house to the assisted living place, to the hospital, back and forth 2 and 3 times a day. Moment by moment, day by day, we operated on auto-pilot. Both of my parents are hilariously funny and a hoot to be around. Everyone at both places were cracking up at them and fell in love with them. They are both also very strong willed, stubborn, and focused on what they want, which is one of the reasons I guess they have lived so long. It can be very frustrating trying to protect them from themselves. They are both determined to keep living at home, on their own, even though several incidents have proven that they need help. My Dad is a fall risk, and has fallen many times in recent years, breaking his arm,his shoulder, his ribs, and so on, up until this last one which broke his hip. In spite of my sister and I finding a wonderful service for at home care, my Dad was angry, and after a week, they have let them go. We do not know what the immediate future will bring for them. We have had to step back and allow them to do as they please, and live their lives on their own terms. That's what we all want for ourselves, isn't it? It was never about us taking control, we just wanted them to be safe, and we don't feel that they are. It has been difficult for me, but even more so for my sister who lives close by and has put her life on hold to be there for them each time they have had an emergency. They keep insisting they don't need help, yet every day they expect her to be there. Already I've been told that the washing machine shorted out and caused an electical fire the other day. The physical therapist happened to be there at the time and was able to take care of things for them. I have to wonder what they would have done if they'd been there alone. I feel like we will constantly be waiting for the other shoe to drop, and it will be something else next time. I'm having to focus on getting back to normal life and taking care of my own health for now, and my sister has to do the same. In twenty years I will be almost the same age my Mom is now. I have to start thinking about how I will want to live at that time, and hope I can make sound decisions.