This is sponsored content from BlogHer and Home Instead Senior Care.
I have never had children, but I almost wish I had, because I think that having toddlers would be good training for dealing with the elderly.
The two groups have many of the same characteristics. They can’t always control their bodies the way they would like to. They sometimes have trouble expressing themselves. They get frustrated at their limitations. They get tired easily and they need their naps.
My father, who has dementia, often gets so disgusted when he can’t put a sentence together that he will quit talking altogether.
“Aw, just forget it,” he grumbles, throwing his hands down.
In helping the elderly – especially those with close emotional ties to you – there is the added consideration of trying to preserve their dignity and independence while keeping in mind that they may not always know what is best for themselves anymore.
Right now I am struggling with my father’s medication. He has taken a dislike to the mail-order pharmacy, claiming they screwed up his order on purpose. Prescriptions through the local pharmacy cost more than twice as much.
Do I overrule him and order from the place he doesn’t like, even though he has the money to pay for the more expensive prescriptions? Or do I do what seems like the prudent thing and save him money, at the cost of his wishes?
Yet largely, I am lucky. My parents, though significantly disabled (my dad by partial blindness and the dementia and my mother by severe arthritis) are very independent. They live in their own home with the most minimal of help (housekeeping and gardening). They don’t need 24-hour care or help with bodily functions.
Their life motto might well be “Don’t be a bother.” They go so far out of their way to not trouble me that sometimes it approaches ridiculousness.
I’ll find out they have been suffering along without something they need, and when I ask why, they will say “Oh, we didn’t want you to go out of your way.”
My dad made this door-closer out of rubber bands when the little air cylinder on their screen door broke. Just because he is mostly blind and can't remember anything doesn't mean he's not clever.
Recently, my mom asked me to pick up an electric blanket for my dad. It took me about a week to get around to purchasing one.
The next day, my mom said “Dad slept better than he has in a while with that new blanket. He has been so cold at night.”
My dad was apparently freezing without the blanket and they didn’t say anything about really needing a new one because they didn’t want to bug me. I had assumed that they needed a new one just because the old one was getting shabby, not because he was too cold.
Sigh. Guilt. Guilt. Guilt.
I teeter between thinking I am a good person because at least I see my folks every day, and feeling like a jerk because I don’t always know how to meet all of their needs.
Again, kind of like what I hear parents say about having toddlers.
Full disclosure: I got paid to write this post by Home Instead Senior Care. They would love it if you visited BlogHer.com and nominated a hero caregiver to win a cruise (not me, for goodness' sake).