Parents care for their children….. Children eventually care for their parents
By Tom Mathei
When you were a newborn babe, you were the center of attention and the center of the universe to your parents. As you grew up in the world, your parents protected you every step of the way. They joyfully provided food, clothing, an education and a roof over your head. When you left the nest there might have been a sense that your parents were glad to see you go, if for no other reason than to have a little privacy and the time to enjoy the relationship that brought you into the world. But trust me on this one; they still love you more each day. They want AND need you in their lives.
The reality of the situation is that kids have to move out and move on with their own lives. As they do, time continues to march on. Your parents change. I’m not just talking about the aging process and getting older. As their abilities change, so do their interests and needs. As they change, so must you if you are to stay in sync with them.
Most children get eyestrain headaches from trying to see beyond their high beam lights into the their own family’s future, and never check what’s going on in the rearview mirror. That’s normal, but it does present unnecessary and sometimes devastating problems. Many times grown children only realize their parents need some help after a catastrophic event jolts them into senior reality.
Anticipation and planning are the keys to avoiding a senior catastrophe. However, if you have no idea where to begin, start with “seniorizing” your observation and listening skills, with the goal of providing safe and true golden years for Mom and Dad. Start with their important papers. Check to see everything is where it should be, up to date and organized. How much energy do they seem to have? I’m one that always notices skin complexion as an indicator of how they might be feeling. Is the home neat and orderly, or are there signs of deferred maintenance? Are every day chores being done? Do they have a social life? Are they involved in your lives? How do they communicate with the world outside their four walls?
Of all the myriad of ideas that will come from brainstorming on your own, don’t bypass COMMUNICATION. Face it, you wouldn’t want to live with your parents and naturally they don’t want to burden you, or be subject to your rules by moving in with you. That doesn’t mean we don’t love each other more every day, but it does create a void that can be easily bridged in cyber space. The ability to use a computer seems daunting if you think about it your way, as opposed to what your parents need and can handle. Seniors can learn new tricks, especially if geared to their needs. Email by itself is easy enough, but you want your parents to be able to share your life with more than written words. Teach them how to send, receive and open photos and videos. BOOM! That’s what they want and need to stay involved in your lives, especially if you live at great distance. You can set them up for free GMAIL video conferencing that is as easy as dialing the phone. Believe it! I set up my mother, age 92, on email. She quickly became proficient with what she wanted to do and eventually wound up calling herself CyberNana@gmail.combefore she passed away. Turn the tables on aging and bring joy to the world of aging for your parents. Get them online and into your lives more frequently through technology. They deserve it and you will enjoy it too.