You Can’t Parent Your Parent — No Matter What

I just read a touching 2013 column about supporting elderly parents, written by Washington Post columnist, Cortland Milloy.

In his column Milloy addresses the notion, so prevalent these days, that many of us are “parenting our parents.” I’ll let you read the column for yourself, but I have some firm issues when it comes to the idea of parenting parents. Bottom line? I do not use the phrase.

I believe that my parents are elders, and no matter how frail they become, they possess more experience and wider perspective than I do at my younger age. I support, help, assist, and sometimes take charge to make the occasional decision — if absolutely necessary. I consider their welfare, just as they continue, even at their advances ages, to think about mine.

Aging in the later years of life is not fun. People lose their sense of independence, their cars, their friends, their ability to make decisions, and so much more. No matter what, despite either immense physical challenges or failings of memory, we should work hard to give them credit for, to recognize, and to celebrate the well-lived lives they have led.

As for my parents? They are fragile, but if anything, they continue to parent me.

Fraud, Investments, and Our Elder Parents

Check out “Why Older People are Vulnerable to Fraud & How to Protect Them, a February 2017 New York Times article that describes the ways older adults are susceptible to fraudulent phone calls and offers, especially when it concerns investments. It also  makes suggestions about what people who get entangled in these offers can do. The report shares a study conducted by AARP.

Just about everyone receives telephone calls asking them to use their money to do something. The trick as one ages, I believe, is to avoid making any initial decision over the telephone and to be fairly abrupt or rude  — or just hang up — when answering the phone and discovering that a caller is attempting to sell something. The problem is, most of the elders in my life would never think of being rude — it is not a part of their personal DNA.

Most Interesting Findings   Continue reading

Alzheimer’s Drug Studies Failing, but There’s Still Optimism

If you are the adult child of an elder, you often worry about that family member’s memory, and you are always on the lookout for potential problems. If you are like me, you comb the the scientific literature and health articles looking for information dreaming of a solution to a weakening memory.

Some days the research reports are positive, but today in the Washington Post, they were less so. The February 6, 2017 Washington Post article offers quite a bit of information about what’s happening in the area of Alzheimer’s research and it explains why scientists, while often disappointed, are still seeking explanations and cures.        Continue reading

Giving vs. Receiving: Growing Older & Extreme Frustration

Mom, Her Mom, and Me - 1973

Mom, Her Mom, and Me – 1973

Change is constant when we age, and it’s important for adult children occasionally to consider the changes in our elder parents’ lives by looking through the prisms that our parents gaze through and thoughtfully examining their perspectives.

In a conversation with my mom — who has found herself less energetic and more dependent on others — she shared her journal essay about the many changes in her life. Mom expressed her sometimes vexation with elderhood while also analyzing what causes her to often feel so frustrated.

She wrote that she had often presented talks based on the Bible verse in Acts 20:35, “It is more blessed to give to receive.” Mom noted that as she has aged, she’s realized that while there is much discourse on the “giving” aspect of the verse, there is little, if any discussion on the idea of receiving. She feels unprepared for a time in life — right now — when she gives less and receives  more. Mother’s insightful piece was published in the Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community publication, “What’s Up at VMRC?

In her journal essay my mother writes:                      Continue reading

The Anatomy of a Fall — Mine

My Boot!

My Boot!

In April 2016 the health writer Jane Brody wrote a powerful essay in the New York Times Personal Health column, Thriving at Age 70 and Beyond. She described the importance of focusing, as we age, on a healthy life style and maintaining social relationships as well as adjusting to age-related physical changes that occur. Brody specifically noted that we need to make individual adjustments to reduce the risk of falls.

All-in-all, the article, mostly focused on women, but much also applicable to men, encouraged people to think in all sorts of ways about what they can do to stay as healthy and strong as possible as aging progresses.

I am still a distance from age 70, yet Brody’s New York Times article offered a wake-up call — reminding me to think about my own aging and any potential issues. I thought a lot about the things we have already done in our own house to prevent falling problems and considered what else we might do. And then, a few weeks later, I fell.

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Stop Saying These Three Things to Elder Adults!

day lillies

When they speak to elderly seniors, middle-age children and and other adults tend to say things, often unintentionally, that demonstrate a lack of respect and empathy.

Sometimes it happens when a person tries to solve a problem quickly; at others the goal is to move along getting to work or school on time. Not infrequently adult children are frustrated when they need to repeat things which they have already said multiple times. Unfortunately, every time we make one of these comments, the elders in our lives grimace, sigh, or merely shake their heads, making allowances for our rudeness. We don’t mean to say unkind, disrespectful, and yes slightly nutty, things to our elder family members and friends, but we do.

As I’ve talked with elder adults that I know, I’ve discovered three phrases that they dislike hearing.               Continue reading