Charlotte Marshall Templeman
Caring for your Elderly Parent
As children, we are taken care of by our parents. They make sure all of our needs are met and occasionally we may get what we want. Parents nurture us and prepare us for the world we will enter as adults. They are our biggest cheerleaders. Parents encourage us to do our best and they support us when we don’t. As we grow and embark on our lives as adults we take the lessons taught by our parents and incorporate them into our everyday lives. We are grateful for the lessons learned and when we become parents we see the qualities from our parents in us. Things we say we would never do which our parents did we find ourselves doing. It makes us smile with a warm heart. However, when our parents begin to get old sometimes the roles change and the child has now become the caregiver. The very people who molded us into the adults we have become are now the ones we have to take care of and ensure their needs are met in their golden years.
My mother has been sick with an illness called connective tissue disease since I was a teenager. Her illness consists of blood clots on the lungs and it primarily affects the upper respiratory system. I did not realize how sick she was because she always made sure my siblings and I were taken care of. As I grew into an adult I became more aware of the severity of her illness. My siblings all moved to different parts of the state but I decided to stay local after graduating from college. It was at that time that I began to help care for my mother. It was something that would begin a change in my life. I learned how to become more patient and understanding because it can be a humbling experience for a parent to have to be taken care of by their child. My mother has been hospitalized numerous times and more than a few times the doctors believed she would not live. By the grace of God my mother is still here. Over the last year her illness has progressed and she has been diagnosed with another illness. With all that she has endured she remains strong but sometimes it can take a toll on her as well as me. Watching your parent’s physical appearance change as well as their illness become progressively worse can be very difficult.
It is extremely important for anyone caring for a sick parent to make sure they are taking care of themselves as well. Getting in tune spiritually is a big plus. There has to be a higher being that you can go to for strength, guidance, peace and hope. My faith has been elevated because without my relationship with Jesus Christ I could not physically take care of my mother. Besides having a spiritual connection, you have to also take time for yourself. Going out with friends, taking a long walk or reading your favorite book will help keep you grounded and sane. There has to be an outlet from the emotional stress that you will endure. Often times you may feel overwhelmed but having a good support system in friends and family is imperative and healthy.
A good parent never second guesses having to take care of their children. They will go through hurdles and leap bounds to give their children the best lives they can. Often times a parent will go without to make sure their children have. If food is limited they will go hungry to make sure their children eat. A good parent will work from sun up to sun down to provide a healthy, well-balanced loving home. When they get older and can no longer care for themselves we should never second guess taking care of them. They should feel and know that they are just as loved and worthy as they made us feel. Caring for a sick elderly parent is not easy but it is rewarding. You are able to give back to them all the things they gave to you which allowed you to become the person you are. I love my mother and I thank God each day He has sustained her life. Although it may get hard at times to see her go through the pain she endures from her illness, I would not want to be anywhere else. She remains my rock and I love her.