July 6th, 2011 at 1:00 pm
Bookmark and Share

Getting out of denial

by Judy Kirkwood

As seasoned caregivers, my sister and I were not surprised to hear a friend’s comment regarding her aging mother, even though it was ridiculously unrealistic. “Since she doesn’t want to go into assisted living, and I’m not going to take care of her, she is just going to have to learn to live on her own.”

As if her mom could continue to live alone.

Denial rears its ugly head

We were at dinner with a group so it was not a good time to take on the topic of denial. But we will remind this friend of our experiences with coming to terms with our parents’ need for care when we have some privacy for discussion. It takes some family members longer than others to accept a parent’s limitations. It’s almost as if they take is personally, as in “Why are you making my life so hard?” Which is, let’s admit it, what we often said as teenagers when our parents would try to restrict our freedom.

No loving parent wants to be a burden on family members. That’s why they make such a big fuss about holding onto their independence far past the point at which they should be living alone. The trick is to discuss plans for care before a parent gets to the point when it is necessary. But few of us do this.

Acceptance is important

Our friend’s mom, who was at dinner with us, but in the restroom when her daughter made her comment, looked great and sounded bright and cheery. But we knew the mom was nearing the point of needing care. She was losing her purse, for instance, several times a day including leaving it at stores. She couldn’t remember things she was told and might be having vision problems (she dipped her sushi in my tea cup thinking it was soy sauce). Most concerning was her fear of being alone, which is a red flag.

Age-related forgetfulness and fears are not something that can be willed away, especially when a parent has other medical concerns, which people in our parents’ age group generally do have. In families with several siblings, hopefully one will step up and take, or at least share, responsibility. But even if it is just you, it is important to remember that we all are going to need care and support, and are deserving of respect, as we get older.

Acceptance is key. Set an example from which you will benefit later.

Posted in Caregiving, Studies | No Comments »
Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply