This is a photo of my stepfather. It was taken several years ago, when he was still physically and mentally able to take care of his house and yard. Unfortunately, time has taken away a lot of his abilities. At 89, he is now needing a lot of help to do the simplest of tasks. His mind has become confused and his body frail. My mother, also, needs almost constant care and assistance.
There’s nothing unusual about their situation. There are elderly people all over our country who find themselves unable to provide for their most basic needs.
If they are lucky, they have friends, family, and professional caregivers around to help them. Some, however, are not so fortunate, and they quite often suffer tremendous hardships and probably shortened lives.
Even for the lucky ones, life can be very difficult as their minds and bodies begin to wear out. Think about what it would be like if you were unable to get out of a chair and walk across the room, without being in danger of falling and seriously injuring yourself. What if your mind had grown unable to focus and form new memories — memories that would enable you to make sense of the world around you? There are so many daily struggles for the fragile elderly!
Families are often the ones who wind up trying to hold all the pieces together for “Mom and Dad”. In this day and age, when people are scattered all over the country — or even all over the world — it gets even more complicated.
My mom and stepfather have been able to stay in their home so far, thanks to my sister. She has been providing the round-the-clock care that is necessary. My brother and his wife, and my husband and I, provide as much ongoing visits, support and assistance as we can, without living in the same city.
Recently my stepfather had a health crisis, and our family came together. It made such a difference! We live four hours away, so we just packed our bags and went up there for six days. My brother and his wife live closer, so they were able to come over several days during that time period. Together, we got many necessary things accomplished.
It was so much easier when we were all there to support each other and show our love and caring in person. I know that isn’t always possible, but when it is, it can make a profoundly positive impact on everyone. Our stepfather is doing better now. My sister had a chance to catch her breath and have lots of hands-on help. I think she felt supported, validated, and supremely appreciated! She, also, learned some new ways of doing things that are working better for her. All in all, it was an important time to come together!
If your family is dealing with a difficult situation, remember the value of pulling together. My grandmother always quoted the same saying to me — from the time I was a very little girl helping her with some chore, up until I was an adult, and she would come over to help me with a project around my house. I’m sure you’ve all heard the saying, and maybe even said it yourself. I’ve certainly said it to my kids! It’s: “Many hands make light work!” It’s a good saying to remember! You never know when you, or a loved one, will need it.
Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts.
Until next time,