Often Encountered. Seldom Discussed.
2012 is off to a non-stellar start at Three Dog Manor. My mother fell, needed shoulder replacement surgery and then less than 2 months later managed to dislocate her remaining “good” shoulder. With my father in the advanced stages of dealing with Parkinson’s disease, this presents some challenges.
My parents are not old. They saved and invested their money, planning for a fun retirement. It has not worked out the way they planned. (Thank you stock market.) Rather than shipping off their grown children to raise families and drop by to visit with children, they are seeing us daily as we piece together a schedule of care.
What do you do as your parents age? Hopefully they’ve had the foresight to care for things like wills and power of attorney and telling you where to find the sacred documents, but nobody tells you how to manage within the seam in day-to-day living. It seems I am in the midst of faking it ‘til we make it and hope what I’m learning could now, or someday, help you.
The first order of business is to ensure they are safe and able to care for themselves if they are to be left alone…
- Can they handle bathing?
- Getting meals?
- Are they in good spirits?
- Are you seeing signs of memory loss?
- Are they safe to let loose on the roads?
My father is experiencing regular hallucinations as he battles Parkinson’s and MRSA in his body but is in an odd place where he knows they are not real. It is frightening, but only because he knows he is having them. I am thankful they are pleasant.
Beyond assessing the situation you need to:
- Tell your parents your concern. They are adults and should have a voice.
- Go with them to doctor visits when possible. I tell my sister it prevents sugar-coating.
- Hire a home health care aide to help your parents with daily activities such as bathing and dressing. We’re not there yet but we’re headed quickly down the path.
- Look for resources in the community. My mother is a social worker by trade but I just think that translates into being more difficult to help.
Sometimes they won’t admit, or don’t know, they need help. Remind your parents that you love them and care about their well-being. Then keep gently pushing them to a place where everyone can be safe and happy.
It’s not easy turning the tables but it happens every day, and it is a great opportunity to practice your patience.
Lillian Studevant is a working professional and mother of three. She is passionate about animals and rescues dogs in addition to two of her own. Follow more of her family's adventures on her Personal Blog.
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