As Sandwiched Boomers, it’s difficult to watch as your parents deteriorate. And they may complicate the situation by being in denial about their vulnerable condition. It’s up to you to acknowledge the true state of affairs and be straightforward in dealing with your father’s increasing fragility. A number of issues must be discussed, uncomfortable as that is – health care directives in an emergency, long-term care options, the designated power of attorney, distribution of income and assets.
After evaluating the practical issues that need to be managed, you will feel more in control as you gather detailed information and make arrangements for the most immediate concerns. Like Tricia, you can recall the good times and use some of the following tips to help you plan and implement your caregiving:
Embrace the changes in your parents and respect their integrity. Accept them at whatever stage they are, even as they become less strong physically and mentally. Willa reminisced about her father. “He has always been my hero. As a child, I felt safe with him because he was so powerful. Now I admire his courage and dignity, as he struggles with coming to terms with end of life issues.”
If your aging father has become ill, spend time learning more about his illness. Educate yourself on what to expect and the resources available. Talk to friends who have gone through similar experiences in order to get realistic feedback and concrete advice.
Make sure that your parents are as involved in the decision-making process as they can be. Moving out of their own home may signify their loss of independence. This often creates anger, frustration, or feelings of depression. Understanding their pain and engaging a geriatric social worker or gerontologist at this time can be helpful for your father and everyone else in the family.