Caring for Aging Parents & Time: The Gift Of A Lifetime
Caring for aging parents can be stressful, but it can also be an amazing gift.
Another one of life’s greatest gifts is one you can’t see.
You can’t touch it, but it can touch you. You certainly cannot hold onto it. You can’t stop it. Nor can you start it. It will last forever even though you won’t. This is the gift of time. And the very idea of time seems like a paradox.
The Bond Of Togetherness
We often don’t appreciate the gift of time that we have to spend with our families and loved ones. I think that’s because life progresses so seamlessly and so often without too much focus on the effects of time. For instance, when we come into the world as infants, we typically come into a family or at the very least, into the 24/7 care of an adult figure. We spend every moment with adults who can observe our behaviors and actions. If something doesn’t seem quite right the adult will take notice and take care of the child.
As soon as they are able to express themselves, children want to be taller, older and more independent. They want time to move faster so they can do the things they see older children and adults doing. Before you know it, the children are grown up and more independent. Eventually, children move out and into their own lives.
That’s when parents suddenly become more keenly aware of the aging process as they watch their children move away from them into their own busy lives. The effects of time become more visible on the body and the behavior of parents, when the kids are not there to observe the changes.
The Effects Of Time
As our parents age, they very often live in their own place – sometimes far away from their children. Then perhaps one parent dies. Even though the children call regularly, they typically only visit occasionally. They may come for extended visits during holidays. During these extended visits, siblings may notice behaviors that become worrisome.
It is only when you spend extended periods of time with someone that you can begin to tell if they are well. Just like with infants who are so dependent on adult care at the beginning of life, aging returns us to a fragile state as our bodies and minds decline. Spending 24/7 time with an aging parent is truly the only way to identify the subtle changes that may indicate cause for concern.
Dismissed Over Time
Even though our culture does not revere its elderly, I believe our aging parents deserve the same kind of care and attention that newborns are given. Of course, they are not quite as dependent as a newborn, though in many instances they may be. We simply don’t give them the time and attention they gave us when we arrived. The comings and goings of life are treated very differently: One with great ecstasy, the other with mixed emotions depending on the circumstances.
Our Behaviors Only Matter In The Living Years
It is only in looking back, after parents have left this plane of existence, that many people experience regret at how they dismissed their parents’ needs. It doesn’t have to be that way. We can tend to our parents’ care before they become fragile by working together with them to create a plan that works for everyone. The last thing we want is to be heartbroken and feeling guilty that we didn’t do our best for our parents in their living years.