With everything that happened in 2020 affecting the elderly the most, we saw news feeds of families not allowed to visit their parents or grand parents in facilities locked down. We witnessed tears of adult children knowing their parents were sick or dying and they couldn't be there to comfort, hold their hands, or hear their last words.
This may be the year you take a closer look at how to care for your parents when they aren't safe to be left alone and can't live independently.
If you wonder why you would do that, ask yourself these questions:
How did your parents 'pay it forward' for you?
What do you have today because of your parents?
What did your parents invest in you or for you, that makes you special, unique, and grateful?
What they've paid forward you can pay back and begin this year. One example from our experience.
Our parents took us on trips. They 'dragged us around from "pillar to post" as my mother sometimes said. Some travel was when we moved overseas with their work, but many short jaunts were just for a drive or a picnic. Mom and Dad loved an adventure which is what they made every time they needed us kids to cooperate and get excited about another move or chore. When we had the total care of their lives, It became the pleasure of our family to do as many things for them as they had done for us. This included some short trips.
To be honest, when dementia strikes, they may not remember the things you are doing, but your joy at the prospects and memories of your childhood creates an atmosphere they can still feel in their hearts. Every time you venture out, you will be comparing what they are enjoying to what they wouldn't be doing in a facility. And especially not with you, their beloved child rather than an employee or contract worker.
Three reasons why I was so committed to managing the full time care of our parents the last five years of their life were because:
These may not be the exact reasons you want to find out if you CAN or WANT to do what we did. But many more adult children are worrying about their parents. Unfortunately our lives and routines get on a track and it isn't until there's a crisis with one or both of our parents that we have to stop and decide how this is going to affect our lives, if at all.
One reason I offered to become the Enduring Power of Attorney early on was because I was an associate for Legal Shield (formerly Pre Paid Legal). One of the services offered and stories shared amongst associates was about the importance of having legal documents in place, especially if dementia was a factor in elder care. If you are interested in an affordable Legal Plan check the one from Legal Shield.
Dr. Natali Edmonds offers good information in a video: Dementia and Power of Attorney: Medical and Financial Power of Attorney for Dementia. By ensuring that your parents have legal things in place while they are mentally fit to sign the documents, you or someone they trust, are in place. In our case, we put this in place early 1992 but it wasn't until early 2006 that it became necessary to take over more and more aspects of their lives.
We didn't know the level of dementia that was preventing them to live independently, even in assisted living. The six month stay there alerted us to make the changes we did to keep them together. The details are in my book, Done With Dementia: Keeping Your Parents Together. Please begin to pay back your parents by at least beginning discussions and researching who in the family CAN and WANTS to take this loving responsibility. Be the hero in your family. Get more done in '21. Happy New Year.
Dementia is a word that most of us push away unless we know someone close to us who is exhibiting the symptoms. From this chart you can see that the red bars are almost doubling every two decades. We are smack in the middle of this chart, at the end of 2020.
My parents began to exhibit symptoms of dementia in their 70s, which was also early 90s. However, as I share in my guide and the book, Done With Dementia: Keeping Your Parents Together, we didn't look at the statistics. We were just living life and checking in with Mom and Dad once in awhile, mostly for social visits.
Dementia is on the rise because the population of those labelled 'seniors' and the 'elderly' is also on the rise. We are the baby-boomers, in North America. We have also been privileged to see three or more generations escape the ravages of war, that reduce populations.
Unfortunately in our Western culture, we tend to see the path ahead to getting older