Hey Folks! So I’m a little frustrated because my Dad won’t let us help him. I’m all for the elderly independence. But, a few days ago, he pulled his shoulder. No doubt it happened while lifting my mom, who has multiple sclerosis. He still lifts her, but now putting the stress more on the other side. So, my sister and I offer to help lift Mama and do the various things around the house that need doing. “It’s only a band-aid,” he says. Well, it’s good to have one when you are bleeding is how me and my sister feel.
The reality of being a caregiver and assisting your elderly parents — within their desired limits — is that you can’t (and shouldn’t) force the issue. Oh wait — essentially you can. And, run the risk of adding more stress to an already stressful situation for them and you. Unfortunately, much like when we were teenagers and young adults and about to make disastrous decisions, we had to learn on our own. The difference is that in most of those situations, we alone bore the result of our mistakes. Or did we? Just like we had to grow and learn that our parents were guiding us in a particular direction for our own good; now we do the same. That stage of life for us was a process. This one is the same.
I just had to have a ‘woosah’ moment. 1) Never forget these are grown people you are dealing with and they make grown people decisions. 2) Will we be affected by the decision? Of course! But, in life, you simply can’t control every single thing. The reality is that just as they had to let go of us as we grew and made our own decisions — against parental advice — they are doing the same thing. Only in reverse, so to speak.
So I have now calmed myself. I had an opportunity to talk with my mom and understand her not wanting to leave him alone when we could have taken her out for the day. She has fears and the two of them are really one after fifty plus years together. They cling to each other in true love. She had a dream that he collapsed in their family room. The dream was so vivid that she was saying “Get up!” out loud in her sleep. They are comforted by each other’s nearness. Who are we to interfere?
What now? We wait, be watchful and stay close. We help in other ways that they don’t realize — or maybe they do and are just quietly accepting the help without dissent. I remind myself that while we’re helping them, we’re really helping ourselves. We’re all growing in this process and learning a different level of love, patience, kindness and respect. My conclusion. Love them and honor their decisions.
How do you go through the process of working with your parents’, or other loved ones’ boundaries?