Many of us are caregivers to our senior parents. Some of us are trying to do this from a distance and realize that it is very difficult to meet the needs of aging parents that way and still be comfortable that they are safe.
As a result we have decided to move to be nearer our parents or move our parents to be closer to us.
Oftentimes, we have not lived near our parents for decades. Our contact with our parents throughout our adult lives has been family get-togethers and holiday visits. We have gone in and out in a flurry of activity spending time with our loved ones in short spurts. When we have visited, we saw signs of aging that began to worry us forcing us to make some changes.
We may have longed our entire lives to be closer to our parents, to be able to share fun family times and our children’s lives. We regret the ball games they didn’t get to attend, the birthday parties they weren’t able to participate in over the years as our children were growing up so fast, the school events they missed, and just the day to day activities that make up a family’s existence.
Once we make the decision to live closer the fun begins! We now are getting to know our parents as adults. We are experiencing their quirks firsthand. We are learning what they have been doing to keep themselves busy throughout the day. We now know what they eat every day and what they refuse to eat. We are learning things about them that we never knew before.
Some things we are learning we wish we didn’t know. We are finding out what they think, how easy they share their opinions-good and bad, and how they are really handling their day to day affairs.
Sometimes this information is surprising, scary and leaves us with a feeling of sadness at how much they really have progressed in their aging process that we didn’t notice before.
We are essentially meeting our parents all over again now that we are able to spend more time with them. If we can look past how they are able (or unable) to care for themselves, we can discover the things we don’t know. We can talk about the family tree, their early life, things they did when they were young, their plans for their future, their desires as they continue to age, things in our life that they missed and how important having them close by is to you. We can finally know them as people.
Let’s all grab the gusto and share our lives each day being thankful that we can finally be together. Some days it might be harder than others, but in the long run, we will be better for the time we shared.