Your Parents Are NOT Your Children!!

arguing with aging parent

“Mom, did you eat your dinner yet?”

“Gloria, I know when to eat my dinner!”

Many times I take to heart my Mom’s defensive tone. I want her to see my questions as concern for her. She, on the other hand, seems to see it in a different way. I’m beginning to understand why. I am the child, not her.

How disrespectful it must feel that their “little Gloria” bosses them around. They see me as their baby whom they raised and can’t understand why I suddenly see them as incapable.

While we care for our parents, we need to preserve their need to be treated as full-fledged adults. No matter what decisions need to be made our parents need to be included in a genuine way.   Although my mom complains, “Gloria, I’ve had this medication for a long time. What makes you think I can’t remember when to take it?” She sometimes does forget her medication. I want to think of a way to empower her by involving her in her own care. So for example, I ask her to help me fill the medicine trays.

Please share other ways you help your parents remain empowered to take care of themselves.

Strong, Living Oak Trees

Strong living oak treesOne day my Dad commented that Mom complained, “That little Miss Gloria takes over everything!” When my father shared this with me I realized that both my Mom and Dad can still take charge of their own lives. While I know I have major decision-making responsibility for my parents, my mom’s statement caused me to think about presenting these decisions in a respectful manner.

Speak to your parents with honor and respect as you keep them in their adult roles. They are still the pillars of your family. In fact, continue to tell them that they are strong living oak trees that provide love and shade to the generations.

Growing into Eternity

Growing into Eternity

“Growing into Eternity”

One day my friend sat with my mom in the doctor’s waiting room. Later she shared their conversation:

Mom:     Oh boy, I knew my life was over when I couldn’t drive anymore.

Friend:   Oh, yes, it must be so difficult in Florida, since everything revolves around the car. In New York things are so much closer.

Mom:      Mmm mmm, now I’m stuck in the house doing nothing. It’s the end of my life.

Friend:   But, Ma’am, as believers our life doesn’t end. We move right into eternity. Just think about it. In this special time of your life God draws you closer to Him readying you for what he has planned in the future!

Mom:      I never saw it like that before.

Friend:   Yes, we all sow seeds in this life that will come to full growth as we go on into eternity. While our body might not be growing our Spirit definitely continues to develop.

As I reflect on the above conversation I realize that as I interact with my parents I need to reinforce this spiritual growth and focus less on their failing body. Our bodies make up just one aspect of our identity. Our Spirit contains our true identity. I now see that our words are powerful and when we speak the Word of God—which is life—we show that life is good and will continue to be good.

It is so important to continue to help your parents stay connected to friends that will speak words of life and encouragement. Many people who are called to this type of ministry are available and the time to find them and connect with them will be well worth it.

I also believe it is important to keep our elderly parents busy with positive, life-giving activities which could include music listening, gardening, and reading to children. When we involve ourselves in these types of activities instead of watching news and programs that stir up fear and anxiety we proclaim God’s peace in the atmosphere.

Remember, Philippians 4:8 which directs us to think on what is good, honorable and praise-worthy!!

Caregiver

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My children and my parents celebrating a birthday together

Being a caregiver has helped me to grow in many ways. The unexpected, exhaustion, challenges, restless nights and growing pains have been a foundation for my courage, mental and spiritual growth.

My view of the world and my place in it continues to evolve in a miraculous manner!  I’m amazed at how it can be tiring, however the effort is tireless. The more I give, more is given back to me.

As my parents often seem unaware of what will happen next, or why aging requires more assistance, I’m grateful that I’m able to help guide them.

I was given a very small but powerful book when I retired entitled, “Caregiver Therapy” written by Julie Kuebelbeck and Victoria O’Connor. I am a retired elementary school principal and the book was given to me by my school’s social worker. This book truly opened my eyes and heart when I became depressed and questioned, “Why me?”.  The following quote was profound and has proven to be true during my journey:

“Living fully includes caring for yourself and giving care to others. Keeping both in balance
will make your journey through life rich and rewarding.”

This insight has changed my perception. It is the reason why today, I’m grateful to give care to my parents. I thank God that during their aging process, I’m learning so much!!  Their growth enhances my growth and I’m also being a responsible role model for my children.  This experience has helped me to understand caregiving as giving gifts of care packages wrapped with TLC.  I’m filled with gratitude to have this extraordinary job.

“Whether you give care to others as a professional, a volunteer, a relative, or a friend, caregiving can be rewarding and life affirming.” (Caregiver Therapy)

Praying

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Praying has given me the wisdom to understand, energy to accomplish the “why’s and how’s” of caregiving, and the strength to endure. Before I start my day and end my day, I pray and meditate. I read my bible and inspirational readings. Praying and meditating are the best medicines!  My spirit becomes rejuvenated and my thought process is clearer. My soul feels “happy” and I’m ready to give care no matter what it takes! When I feel beaten down, I return to my spiritual place and start over again. I know there will be another day to do my best and unanswered questions will be answered. My challenges will be resolved, my prayers and others praying with me will positively change things. Hallelujah!! I’m a living witness that is faithful and a true believer!

In closing, I will share a prayer with you that was given to me from my Sunday School teacher many years ago. This prayer has guided me in a miraculous manner:

“O God, for another day, for another morning, for another hour, for another minute, for another chance to live and serve thee, I am truly grateful.

Do thou this day; free me
From all fear of the future,
From all anxiety about tomorrow,
From all bitterness towards anyone,
From all cowardice in face of danger,
From all laziness in place of work,
From all failure before opportunity,
From all weakness when thy power is at hand.

But fill me
With love that knows no barrier,
With sympathy that reaches to all,
With courage that cannot be shaken,
With faith strong enough for the darkness,
With strength sufficient for all tasks,
With loyalty to Thy Kingdom’s goal,
With wisdom to meet life’s complexities,
With power to lift me to Thee.

Be thou with me another day and use me as Thou wilt.”

Happy are those who find wisdom, and those who get understanding.  -Proverbs 3:13

“When you feel alone and in need, let God care for you. God is the greatest caregiver there is.” (Caregiver Therapy)

Doctors

Doctor Speaking with Patient

Doctors are vital to the patient and the caregiver. Doctors are also human. It is extremely important that there is open communication. Tell your doctor how important it is that they show as much care and concern about your elderly parents or loved one as you do.

To ensure clear and precise communication with the doctor, the caregiver and the loved one must speak with one voice. Discuss with your loved ones prior to the doctor’s visit what their needs and expectations are. Write them down so you won’t forget anything. This will allow for a productive visit and positively impact the healthcare.


“You needn’t guess at what is helpful to others. Ask what would be of most benefit to them right now. Their needs may change from moment to moment, from day to day. Remain flexible and open.” (Caregiver Therapy)

Books

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Being a caregiver requires you to draw upon your strength and to keep a “sound mind”.  Books are inspirational, educational, therapeutic, rewarding, etc.  Before I begin my day, I read and meditate.  It seems miraculously, just by being silent and still, whatever doubts I had the night before regarding my parents’ care are resolved.The booklist below has given me the strength to endure and the wisdom to understand.

1.  The Holy Bible

2.  The Book of Awakening – Mark Nepo

3.  Daily Word – A Unity Publication; www.dailyword.com

4.  The Giving Tree – Shel Silverstein

5.  Love You Forever – Robert Munsch

6. Caregiver Therapy – Julie Kuebelbeck and Victoria O’Connor.

“Sometimes, a book is your best friend.”