Monday, 26 October 2015

walking the line when dealing with ageing parents

the hardest part of growing up is realizing your parents are growing old

We've just spent some time with my in-laws trying to find them a possible house to move to now that they are getting old and frail. The only fly in the ointment is that they still see themselves as sprightly sixty year olds - which is as far from reality as you can get.

They have lived on an acre of land for the last 25 years - and have been keen gardeners turning the majority of it into flower beds, fruit trees and vegetable plots. All was well until the last few years when the ageing process has caught up with them and all the things they used to do are no longer possible. My father-in-law is quite frail and uses a walking frame, he now can't do anything that involves walking, reaching, bending etc etc, and this of course makes gardening a non-event for him. Meanwhile, his 83 year old wife who has been looked after all their married life, now has to shoulder the workload or get the "children" to do it for them.

There is a lot to be said for "honour thy parents" but you still have to earn a living and have a life of your own that doesn't necessarily involve clearing firebreaks, chopping wood or cutting down dead trees. At the same time you can't expect your 80+ year old mother to do it either - quite a quandary and the solution is for them to move to a smaller suburban block and reduce the load. (A better solution would be a villa or a unit or a retirement village, but they don't want to go where "old people" live!)

Part of this weekend has been taken up with going to a home open with them to see if it would suit them. The house is in a lovely suburb (not far from us) and is large but not too large, has a good sized yard and looked perfect for them. The trouble is that they start looking at it from the perspective of sixty year olds. "Where would we put the spare queen sized bed?" "I don't think the pantry is big enough." "The stove is too low and I'd have to bend down to put my baking in it." and so it went on and on and on. 

We did our utmost to point out all the boxes that the place ticked - including the large shed that my father-in-law needs for all the woodwork and things (that he hasn't been able to do for the last ten years!) The real estate agent just let the process flow around him and was very kind - it was me who wanted to do a little bit of parent strangling at times! I guess this is the beginning of a process and maybe with time it will get easier.

David G. Allen — 'Patience is the calm acceptance that things can happen in a different order than the one you have in mind.'

Patience has never been one of my strong points - especially when I think I know how something should be done. This will be good training for me and hopefully I'll manage to keep my peace and not say anything that I'll regret later. I think they know that this move is inevitable and any move is painful and difficult, but sometimes you have to bite the bullet and just do it (thanks Nike!) and I think they know this in their hearts. It won't be this house they buy, but maybe somewhere down the track they'll find a home they can envisage living in. Loving ageing parents and knowing where to draw the line is a tricky path to walk and sometimes I just need to back off a little and let things be.


27 comments:

  1. This is so difficult. I wish you good luck. I might suggest a bit of frank talk, like "when was the last time you used the woodworking equipment/" or "when was the last time you baked?" Delicately but bring them out of denial.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm starting to do that Haralee - my husband's family are great avoiders of conflict - they won't speak up if it's going to upset their mother (in particular). I'm playing devil's advocate and trying to push them gently but firmly in the right direction. But man it's frustrating!

      Delete
  2. this whole post is what Im living now and most especially the quote at the top.
    for some reason the struggle and feelings have surprised me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me too Carla - they used to be such examples to me of Godly wisdom and sensible-ness (is that a word?) Now they are just old and stubborn and it makes me sad - it also makes me aware of how easy it is to fall into that trap if you don't watch yourself - I don't want to be old and cranky!

      Delete
  3. Speaking of idioms - fly in the ointment - your'e saying, Leanne:) Oh la la that's a tricky one. For now my mom's living with us most of the time (except when it's summer and she wants to be at her place). But having got a glimpse of what it means to take care of your ageing parents I'm a bit scared for the future. I so feel for you Leanne, I mean it's really hard! xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. it is hard Abby - they're still your parents and you have to respect their age and who they are but the relationship turns around and you end up feeling like the grown up half the time!

      Delete
  4. My heart goes out to you. Lifestyle changing decisions are often hard for our parents to face. I think Haralee said it best....frank conversations with kindness and compassion seems to work the best. We always emphasized health and safety in these delicate conversations.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. that's what I'm working on Ellen - trying to get them to see the future and the need for something they can manage and making the change while they are still in charge of the process - but it's tricky!

      Delete
  5. Welcome to my world haha! Dealing with our parents takes every bit of restraint, patience and nerves that you can muster! You said something about having your own life? what is this thing that you speak of hahahaha!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are my idol when it comes to dealing with parents Rena - I'm not sure how you manage it every day - after a particularly difficult time with the in-laws I'm almost ready to tear my hair out. I think it's a little easier when it's your own family because you can be more "real" and say stuff but it's still a fine line.

      Delete
  6. I know how you feel---my mother is 86 and very stubborn in her thinking. It drives me crazy when she won't listen to reason!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. they think they're still 50 or 60 Marcia and can't see how far they've deteriorated - the ageing process seems to speed up after 80 - I'm not looking forward to it!

      Delete
  7. We've been going through this with my parents. I was worried when they moved to Arizona, and with my mom's arm difficulties this summer, it's apparent that they need to move back to Seattle. But they are very stubborn! Like you said, it's a fine line, and for now I'm backing off.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I've been trying to back off too Lana & making my suggestions more subtle but it is incredibly frustrating when you want the best for them but they are too stuck in their ways to see it!

    ReplyDelete
  9. This is a tough one! You want to help them, but like you say you have to have your own life too. And when they say they will do it themselves they aren't trying to be selfish or make you feel guilty, they actually think they can do it! #abitofeverything
    Debbie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. that's so right Debbie! They still think they are 20 years younger and base their decisions on that - it's so difficult to get it right!

      Delete
  10. This is a difficult situation and it is hard for all involved. We're the sandwich generation - but with no one fix all solution for all situations/families. Like you aptly pointed out, loving patience is the key and I know your family will find the answer or home. I hope to see you again at #abitofeverything

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks so much - I'm hoping that we learn from this and don't do the same thing to our own children when the time comes!

      Delete
  11. I imagine it is difficult for all involved to adjust to the new dynamic and realities of the changing situation. Good luck with it all! #abitofeverything

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks! we're doing our best and it's a good test of my patience management :)

      Delete
  12. This sounds so difficult, I wish you the best of luck with finding a solution that works for you all x #abitofeverything

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. it's the generational dilemma I think and there will be more of it to come as our parents are all living longer and wanting to keep their independence for as long as possible.

      Delete
  13. Sounds tough. I am guessing this will be the next stage of life for us. At the moment we have just started our little family and then they will grow up and everyone will be older! (how do I follow your blog?)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. you could like my facebook page Lisa - https://www.facebook.com/crestingthehill/
      I don't have a subscriber button for my blog (I am a bit reluctant to bombard people) but I'd love to have you stop by regularly :)

      Delete
  14. Thank you so much for sharing your post with us at the #AnythingGoes Link Party! The new party goes live today at 6 PM ET.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thanks for sharing fabulous information here, Retirement Villages Adelaide is the best Retirement Assisted Living package and Retirement facility in Retirement Villages south Australia. We are largest providers of quality lifestyle.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks for stopping by Tanya - Adelaide is a bit out of the way for us (although sending the in-laws interstate is quite tempting at times!)

      Delete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...