Baby Doll, as I call her, has reinforced something I already knew but had never put into words. The instinct to show affection is strong. We humans need love and kindness and we need to give it in return.
Dad turned 85 last March. I'd been trying to get back to Colorado to see him, but I didn't make the time until summer, after his heart had landed him briefly in the hospital. He'd gotten out okay, but my sister said he was 15 pounds underweight; she was worried about him.
Working on a book about aging has meant figuring out how to make this subject appealing... or at least not dismayingly off-putting. I mean, who wants to learn about tub transfer benches? Who cares about tile slip resistance? Did I really have to choose such an un-sexy topic for my first book?
Imagine a GPS that guides you easily along a road for hundreds of miles, then suddenly the voice command blurts out, 'Turn left...No turn right! Make a U-turn. Stop! Go!' You'd feel pretty frazzled, right? Well, that's what caregiving is often like.
The Obama administration has declared that November is National Family Caregivers Month. The proclamation declares that family member, friends and neighbors dedicate countless hours providing care to their relatives and loved ones.
Helping your folks downsize and move as they get on in years can be a daunting task. The emotions of leaving a place that has been home for many years -- along with that elephant in the room, aging -- are heavy burdens.
It's the third time in an hour that my mom has called and now we're in the middle of dinner, so I tell the kids that I'll call her back, but I really don't want to. My mother has been in an assisted living community for a year and her Alzheimer's-induced dementia has steadily spirited her away.
I think when we watch our parents slide, it becomes important to realize it's no longer about us. Whatever our issues were in the past with our parents, it just doesn't matter anymore. You move into a different phase of the relationship.
Watching a parent become weaker, sicker or more enfeebled is stressful, of course, but most adult children can bear that. It's when that parent becomes vicious, hostile and resistant to help that stress crosses over into distress.
Taking over an aging parent's finances is a difficult -- but important -- step to protect them from the consequences of neglecting their accounts. But once adult children have made that difficult decision, they may find that they have to deal with another obstacle: distance.
I've always told my siblings that I would only move to Texas if I were on my death bed -- and now that seems likely. The medical system is excellent, and it's my mother who is. Dying, I mean. And therein lies my dilemma.