All my friends (and I mean all) are taking care of aging parents.
Let’s face it; I am at the time in my life where most of the people I choose to surround myself with – either through business or pleasure are in their mid 50’s and are taking care of aging parents. Considering the fact that I have been in the insurance business for 30 years; my clients and colleagues know me well and have shared with me the issues they are facing in their daily lives. I have used the same attorney, the same CPA, the same hair dresser forever and so I know they are carrying this as well. No one is exempt except my friends who have already lost their parents. And even then – they end up taking care of other relatives that are aging and need support.
Currently I have six super close friends taking care of parents. One of them just had her mother move in with her and her family after falling down in her own home and laying on the floor (she had been able to get a pillow and a blanket by crawling) for almost 24 hours. When my friend called to check up on her, her mother said, “don’t worry, I am in bed and ok, no rush, come when you can”. Of course she rushed and found her 85 year old mother lying on her kitchen floor. Now Mom lives with her. We are working to help her find suitable help so my friend can continue to go to work and live her life.
I have another friend whose mom lives in Florida. He has been back and forth several times from New York because her health is declining and she has been in and out of the hospital several times in the last six months. Air fare isn’t cheap and he is basically putting his life on hold while he tends to her needs.
I have another friend (more than 35 years) who went to Florida, packed up her really ill mother, brought her up to her sister’s house and visits her almost every day for the last two years. She cooks, cleans, takes her to her doctor visits, does her laundry and gets her out to get her nails and hair done. My friend wouldn’t consider doing it any differently.
It’s funny – I have always been very careful as to the type of person I get close to and consider a friend. I have ridiculous expectations and standards. However, as a result I have friends and colleagues who are wonderful giving people. It’s no surprise to me that they are all the “chosen” ones in their respective families to provide the support and care that their loved one requires.
I have written and spoken often about how important it is to take care of oneself while caring for another. I see it come to life now in my friends. Of course everyone’s situation, personality, finances and lifestyles are all different but I see all of them struggling to make the right choices for their families and for themselves. Some do it better than others. Some of my friends are exhausted and just about ready to blow. Others are managing the additional responsibilities and worries better. All of them have experienced fear, uncertainty and frustration. Taking care of an aging parent can take it’s toll not just on your health but on your work life, your family… It is so important to remember to take care of yourself. Do what makes you feel good. Eat well, rest well (or as best you can) and take time to engage in the activities that bring you pleasure. Go out with friends, don’t isolate. Take a vacation, whatever you need to do to maintain your own health so you can be a good, healthy and calm caregiver.
I watch my friends and I see that they give such good care, so much love so much thought and attention that even the sickest, frailest parents rally and get a little stronger. Of course they do – my friends are the best people and when they feel they have to take care of a parent they do their very best, often sacrificing much of their own needs.
That’s why I am proud to call them friends.