Caring for an aging parent

The other day I left the following comment on Kat’s blog because her blog post reminded me of my own aging father.

“One of the most painful things that we adult children have to go through is watching our once strong and independant parents grow old, vulnerable and dependant on us. This painful process of taking over and starting to take care for those who cared for us all our lives is a big adjustment to make.”

Father is an authoritative figure, fiercely independant and extremely mindful about cleanliness but a stroke change his personality overnight. The stroke did not have a physical effect thankfully. However, it did leave an impact on him mentally.

Overnight, he became a different person. His memory has become really poor and it pains us to watch him struggle with himself trying to remember things or saying things like “I’m so useless, can’t even remember simple things like that.” Its also hard to watch him looking lost and frustrated because he can’t remember where he kept his things. (You know the kind of feeling you have when you just can’t find something and you want to search endlessly till you find it?) This happens to him daily. He cannot remember to take his medication and sometimes tries to take the same meal twice because he has forgotten that he has eaten.

From being very meticulous about cleanliness, he has become afraid to take his bath. Its a fine line for us to walk to remind him to take his bath without sounding patronising or making him feel bad. He cannot remember how to operate his handphone and often thinks his charger is the handphone instead. 

After his retirement he learned to use the bus for going to town and drove around the neighbourhood. He now has to depend on us for transport and it must be hard on him, this sudden loss of independance and freedom.

It painful to watch him looking so lost and old. Yes, it is indeed difficult to watch our parents grow old but something we all have to go through for thats the cycle of life.


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7 thoughts on “Caring for an aging parent

  1. I think it’ll be easier for everyone to come to terms with the fact that one day we will get old and sick (if we are lucky enough to survive all the accidents) and we’ll need to depend on others… and there’s definitely no shame in that…

    I guess many of the older generations cannot accept such reality in life… that makes it so much harder when the time come 🙁

    Even if they do accept the fact, it still does not lessen the pain of watching them grow old and helpless.

  2. To be honest, I’d never want to burden my kids. I wud admit myself to a old folks’ home. I know if I’d stay with them, their lil families will get all stressed up…all over a cranky ol woman, who thinks she so smart!

    But, with my parents getting older… I know for sure, they’d want US to take care of them. So…they cleaned up our shit, then..Now it’s our turn.

    You’d have to make sure you save enough for retirement to pay for the home then to save the kids from arguing about whose gonna pay for the expenses as this sad state sometimes do happen as well.

  3. I noticed both my parents grown older, everytime I go back home, even if it’s once a month! Now my major concern is what if my mom’s cancer reoccurs again, how am I gonna take care of her, and my brother’s also not staying with them. Gee…

    My mum had cancer and so does my aunt so I know how hard it is when someone close to you has the big C. 🙂

  4. Mumsgather, if you let me have your Malaysian postal address, I’ll be happy to send you a copy of the book “Looking After Mother”, compliments of Fishtail.

    Fishtail, its really nice of you to offer but I don’t usually give my postal address to anyone online. You wouldn’t happen to have your book downloadable online do you? 😉

    Ever since his stroke, dad has been showing signs of dementia and its really a condition which we hope does not deteriorate from here. 🙁

  5. My sister and I have had several conversations along this line. Thankfully, my parents are very independent still but it is inevitable that there will come a day, where we will have to be around for them more.

    Then you must treasure this time you have with them while they are independant even more.

  6. I remember only too well how that use to feel seeing my father hooked up to his dialysis machine but right now I would give anything to have him in my arms again.

    I’m sorry this post made you think of sad occassions of seeing your dad hooked up to his dialysis machine.

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