So many of us are reaching that age when we start to wonder how long our parents will be with us, and how we can help them continue to enjoy life, laughter and love to the fullest for the longest. It’s such a daunting transitional point to realize that you just might be the decision-maker from now on, even if you have no idea what the decisions will be.
My 84-year old Dad lives alone in the stunningly beautiful city of Vancouver, BC. His 16th floor aerie of an apartment provides a 270-degree view of English Bay, the West End, Stanley Park, and the city, along with the minimal creature comforts he wishes to have. His decorations include loads of books, beautiful pictures of nature and multi-cultural images, and calendars lovingly notated by his grandaughter my niece, and his sound system operates from morning to night to fill the air with all kinds of music. He walks regularly and eats sparingly, but feasts regularly on plays, symphony concerts, and musicals. It’s a full, rich life.
My biggest decision has been to accept his choice to live alone and independently, far away, without worrying what might happen to him or when, and to be sure to visit at least once a year when we can spend quality time, just the two of us usually, when I fit myself into his interesting lifestyle and enjoy his company and the love we share.
I have so many friends, though, who are thrust unprepared into the position of dealing with parents who are ill or just experiencing the inevitable march of time and the changes it brings. The most difficult topic, the one that seems to frighten parents the most, is always the loss of independence. How do you know when, or even how, to bring it up? Or assess the right moment to assess? Is there ever really a “right” time to become a caregiver? We all want to be in charge of our own destiny…we feel that is our one inalienable right as a human being.
Well, we’ve been thinking for a very long time how we could offer a little help, and have found a terrific national “community” resource we want to share…the Caregivers Library. You can find our “seniors specialist” profile there by visiting http://www.directory.caregiverslibrary.org/listing/the-lymberis-team.html, or by visiting www.nickandbarbara.com/theeldercaregroup but there are many incredibly helpful forms, checklists, and articles available to you on the site as well. We find it to be the most comprehensive and reliable source for any and all information about caregiving, whether it is for a parent, a child, or any other family member or friend you have become responsible for.
Life, and living, are great gifts that none of us should ever take for granted. A caregiver situation is stressful for both the care giver and the cared for. If this site becomes a good resource for you in the decisions you may be called on to make at some point, we’re happy to have helped!