Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Season of Caring

Since Papa's "incident" I have felt motivated to find resources to help during the season of life that many of us will find ourselves in as adults. That season is marked by some level of caregiving for our parents as they age or are affected by an accident, illness or chronic disease.

From the information I have read so far, it is usually a daughter that will care for her parents. Of course there are son caregivers. But I believe because men are most often the major financial providers they, more often than not, cannot devote the time needed to care for a parent full time.

And a full time job it often becomes. From the information I've read, a woman will often spend more years caring for her parents than raising her own children.
It was very sobering.

Between therapy appointments, regular doctor's appointments and any specialists involved in their care, keeping track of an aging parents medical needs can be overwhelming. Not to mention the emotional strain and physical demand caregiving requires.

Thankfully there are people that have walked this road that are willing to share the wisdom they've gained as well as sharing the joys and richness of this special season of life.

The first resource I found that I like is--

Caring for Aging Parents: Straight answers that help you serve their needs without ignoring your own by Richard P. Johnson, Ph.D..

I liked this book because it was practical but very focused on drawing upon the strength of God and specifically the Holy Spirit as we serve our parents in love. But he is no way suggests that we sacrifice our lives, our marriages, our children or our own health in the caring of our parents.

He encourages prayer, a group of supportive people and most important finding what works for each individual situation. He doesn't give blanket statements about what caregiving looks like for us personally. Instead he shares the experiences he has encountered as he helps families walk in this season of life.

The excerpt on the back reads, "This practical handbok provides support for caregivers. Factual information helps you deal with the strain of caring for an elder parent and shows you how to find needed information and support. Caregiving issues are addressed in the light of God's command to honor your father and mother."

Another book I like is--

When Roles Reverse: A Guide To Parenting Your Parents by Jim Comer.

I haven't finished reading this entirely but will be purchasing it for myself. The gem in this book is Chapter 23 called "Fifty Questions That Will Save You Time, Money and Tears."

To quote the author, "If you skip the entire book and only answer the questions on pages 145-153 [which is the beginning of Chapter 23] you'll miss some very good stories, but you'll get your money's worth."

The question's range from, "When is the last time you talked with your parents about their plans for the future?" to "Are your parents signed up for Medicare?"

Also, "What is your parents' monthly income including social security, pensions, investment, and interest income?" to "If your parents refuse to move from their hometown and none of the children can move near them, what are your plans?"

Like I said, sobering.

He has also provided information from nursing homes to elder attorneys to how to deal with insurance companies.

This book is chock full of very real, very practical information in addition to heart-warming stories of his personal experience.

And the last resource I am recommending (for now) is actually a DVD that was a PBS special. It was created with the support of the AARP and chronicles multiple families in diverse situations all currently caring for at least one parent.

I do give a word of caution with the DVD. Because you're actually plunged into the lives of these families, it is very real, very honest and often heartbreaking. There were times I laughed out loud and times I just wanted to weep for the families.

It may be information overload for some. Overall, I am glad that I watched it. I probably won't buy it. But would probably check it out again, from the library, at some point in the future.


Some things all this research has given me is:

• a sense of peace in knowing that God will provide the grace I need, right when I need it.

• knowledge that there will be profound joy and blessing even when the situation may be difficult.


• compassion. I have much more compassion for our aging members of the community and the struggles they face.

As a mom of young children I understand the joys and challenges of a newborn, totally dependent, but growing in independence. An aging parent is the exact opposite. An independent adult growing in increasing dependency.

I realized that as fiercely as a toddler fights for independence, our parents will fiercely protect their independence against the inevitable dependence they will surrender to.

I realized I need to respect who they are-- both as my parents but also as people and that as difficult as the situation may be for me, it is in no way easy for them.

To grow in increasing dependency on the very children you raised can't be easy.

To slowly surrender rights, like driving, must sting horribly.

Oh how we will need to rely on the mercy and grace of the Lord as we enter and walk into--

*** The resources I have listed above were all resources I found at our local library. I've attached links to Amazon on each one to make ordering easy if you choose to. I am in no way receiving compensation from the publishers or Amazon for these recommendations.



Ann said...

I am teary eyed allready. Just the pictures got me. Working in the nursing homes, it was so apparent how much they need their family to come around them. The ones whose family members visited on a regular basis were far healthier and happier.

I think it is wonderful that people wrote about their experience. How funny that the author of the first book has the same name as your dad:)

Keep up the good work...I LOVE you and will be praying for continued wisdom and insight!!!

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