Are You Taking Care of Your Elderly Parents?
This essay is sponsored by the AARP en español*
My mother and her two sisters lived within three miles of their elderly parents. So, when my grandparents needed help and caregiving, my mother and Tias were close by.
My grandparents died at home. Both at the age of 90, within three years of each other. My mother and Tias got through it by taking turns doing the caregiving and hiring caregivers to stay with my grandparents when they could not.
I live in Tennessee, 900 miles from my parents in Miami, and my brother, who lives in a third state, is 1,200 miles from them. So, it is with frequency that I have wondered just what we are going to do as my parents get older — a subject my proud madre doesn’t really like to talk about.
“Don’t worry about me,’’ she said, the last time I was home in Miami.
“Que tu crees, Mam? That you will stay here? I just don’t see that happening,’’ I told her.
My father says he’s ready to ditch Miami right now, but my mother — whose sisters and cousins still live nearby — is not ready to settle in my little country town. And given our last conversation, she may never be. At least, willingly.
As adult children, we’re in a bit of a pickle, aren’t we? I can’t force my mother to do anything. And yet, if my parents are sick, or when they are older, it would be completely impossible to sleep well wondering if my parents are safe, if they are getting around OK, if a hired caregiver is being good to them.
There’s no thought of a “home’’ because, well, we just don’t do that. I’ve joked with my mom and aunts that I’ll buy a giant playpen for all three of them, just as they used for my cousins and me in the ‘60s. They don’t find that too funny.
Gracias a Dios, my parents are healthy and they are active. They still drive — a necessary in a city like Miami, but it is increasingly clear to all of us that there must be a plan in place.
But, where do we begin? And, how do you begin? How do you suddenly become the caregiver and overseer of the competent and independent people who raised you? And, how do you do that when you’re raising one of your own? Or when you’re working, planning for your own golden years?
In my family, this issue is at the forefront because my mother finally retired and it has signaled to us that a new stage of life is beginning — not just for my mother and father, but for all of us.
It is clear that long and honest conversations will be had, that research and budgeting and legalities will have to be discussed. And, while I admit to dread the conversation, I am taking heart that I am not blazing any new trails. The wisdom and advice of generations of past and current caregivers, resources available in my community, and online, will no doubt guide us into the next stage of our lives as a family.
Are you a caregiver? Do your parents live with you now, or will they one day? What plans did you make, or are you making, as you become a caregiver? What resources can you suggest or share? Advice?
* About the post sponsor:
The AARP has launched AARP en español.
The Web site has many sections of interest, with features on everything from travel to living in a home with three generations to how to do living trusts. Plus, technology, food, travel, and entertainment and links to Latino-inspired recipes by Denisse Oller, some of which include video with subtitles in English
Links of interest to the topic of caregiving:
Eight rules for New Caregivers (Spanish) The English version is here and Challenges of Caregiving in Spanish and English. In addition, there is a Caregiving Planning Guide, and caregiving despite long distances.