Wednesday, October 8, 2008

It's a Baby Boomer Theme - Caring for Aging Parents

We were at an end-of-summer garden party last weekend. The day was unexpectedly warm and sunny, and we arrived to the beautiful creek-side yard of our friends Lane and Maureen. Many of the people there were friends we had known for decades.

As we mingled and caught up with old friends, we shared what had occupied our time this past summer.

"We didn't go anywhere this summer. We were busy all summer selling my mom's house and helping her move into a small house just a mile away from our home," said Bridgett. "I go over to her house every day just to visit, and most evenings we'll either cook dinner or barbecue at her house so we can eat together. It's been a challenge, but it's rewarding seeing my mom so much happier, and closer to us so we can help more."

"We had to move my mom into a new care home this summer," said Linda. "Her Alzheimer's has been getting worse and worse, and then we were told we had to move her. It took all summer to find a place, get her settled in and hope for the best."

As we worked our way around the party, we noted that every one of us were dealing with similar problems: aging parents who needed our help, work and careers - or making the transition to retirement, which is also a challenge for many, and our own children.

We're not alone. 13 million baby boomers throughout the US - just like us - are all facing the need to care for their elderly parents. Some are worrying long distance, feeling the need to travel as often as possible to arrange care. Some move parents into their own homes, resulting in caregiving close at hand, but often increasing family tensions at the same time.

Health care and financial challenges (how will we pay for all the services we need) are increasingly common topics of dinner tables and garden parties.

For us and our friends, it was eye-opening to hear how many of us are experiencing a different life-style than we planned for this stage of our lives. How many of us are finding that time is our most valuable asset, just when we thought maybe life would slow down a bit, and we could enjoy it a little more.

We're just starting down the path of challenges, too. We'll need all the mutual support, all the resources and all the ingenuity we can dig up to support our own families - and each other - as we face coming caregiving crises.

In the meantime, we'll enjoy these last days of summer, and we'll value knowing that we're not alone in this drama. And maybe that will make it a little bit easier to keep moving on, searching for solutions that fit just right for our families.

No comments:

Post a Comment