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.

Jane Gross Lecture on Caregiving and Her Family

Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 5.17.20 PMLast fall Jane Gross, journalist and author of A Bittersweet Season, spoke about her experiences supporting and caring for her elderly mother. The presentation at Brethren Village, a retirement community in Lancaster, PA, shares observations, experiences, things she wishes she had done, and much more.

Continue reading

Green House Projects Multiply and Grow Even Stronger

Green Houses, the non-medical model homes for fragile elders who need long-term care, have been in the 2015 news.

Woodland Park in the Snow

One of three homes at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community’s Woodland Park — on a snowy day.

Take some time to read an exciting end-of-year blog post over at The Green House Project. Written by staff member Rachel Sher McLean, the short, yet comprehensive article describes how Green House projects are thriving,, and the piece includes links to articles noting the success of this model of long-term care. If you do not know much about The Green House Project, check out the organization’s website.

You can also bring yourself up to speed by reading my series of posts about the building of three Green Houses at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community (VMRC).                             Continue reading

5 Family Caregiving Facts from Pew Research Center

Pew Family Caregiving GraphIf you provide caregiving support to a family member, take a few minutes to read a short article about Five Facts About Family Caregivers at the Pew Research Center website. The short article offers details from a survey that collected information about participants’ views concerning caring for aging parents, part of a larger Pew project that focused on Family Support in Graying Societies.The image at right is one of the graphs from the article.

The information presented in this report includes data collected from participants about their views on family caregiving in the United States including:

  • the different people for whom family members provide care;
  • the ages at which people are most likely to become caregivers;
  • that most family caregivers are unpaid and not providing financial aid to the family member for whom they offer support;
  • how emotional support appears to be a significant part of the caregiving responsibilities; and
  • the rewards and stress that caregivers experience.

In addition to the graph at the right, the article features several more images that depict survey data and much more information, especially if you click to look at the more comprehensive report. Pew reports that surveys were conducted from October to December 2014 among 1,692 adults in the United States, 1,700 in Germany, and 1,516 in Italy.

Can We PLEASE Stop Using the Word FACILITY?

facility defOn a daily basis I hear people use the word facility, and it’s almost always modified by the adjectives such as assisted living, nursing, and care. I’ll stand in the supermarket line and overhear a conversation between two people about moving a frail relative into a nursing facility. I’ll read an article or watch a television program, and sure enough, if an elder who needs care is involved, they go to a facility. I’ll listen to a social worker (who should know better) in a hospital tell a friend that her parent needs to be moved from the hospital into a rehab facility (and my friend has two days to pull off the move).               Continue reading

What’s Your Caregiving IQ? — Take the Quiz

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 9.27.55 PMCheck out the caregiving IQ quiz over at the NextAvenue website. It includes some questions about how we define caregiving, what we spend on caregiving, and the costs of long-term care. I consider myself pretty knowledgeable and I missed a couple of these.

After each question the quiz shares the answer and offers some detailed explanations. It’s well worth a few minutes of your time.

Those of us with aging parents know that there’s a lot to learn!