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Saturday, 15 March 2014

For the love of Mum and Dad...getting old sucks!

Now why do I post a flyer for a fundraising event? Because this is for a residential home for the elderly and one of the staff is determined to raise funds to help transform the gardens and so give something for the clients to enjoy in their latter years.

You might be reading this now (Saturday 15th March.  (GMT)) or you may be reading this post of the event. Whenever you are having the time to read this blog, the above flyer is very relevant to my point that getting old sucks.

One day we all have to get old and eventually pass away. We will either leave a legacy for our loved ones or leave a very big void that is hard to fill, for those left behind, because something special has passed to the other side.

Many of us will succumb to illness, affliction to which we will rely on the love of our family and friends and professionals to care for us, hopefully to help us recover or make us more comfortable in life. Sadly it is the growing old in us all that becomes a duty of care for younger family members and that for them is just as painful as it is for the person they care for on a regular basis.

For instance, my parents have been around for 80 years, and for I never dreamt that I would have to care for them, always thinking that they were fit and healthy in mind as well as body. But as parents do they love and care for their children, guide them, advise them and help them when they are down, so now my parents are in their later years of life, I have found out that I must now do the same for them.

My father is partly deaf and does not like wearing his hearing aid. He has a skin condition on his head which concerns my mother. And of my mother, she is frail with age and because she worries a lot is on various meds to keep her on the national guidelines for blood pressure...as my sister, a highly qualified medical professional puts it: "Many older people are on tablets that are keeping them alive..". Blunt to say but sadly probably so true. My wife's parents are on a fair number of tablets each day.

...could not remember how to write...

Recently, I sold my parents car for them. I had explained to my mum that selling it was quite simple. You phone one of these scrap merchants and they come and collect and give you money for your car. Their car you see was fairly old, for a car, and was not of great trade-in value. So I believe that this process would be simple for them to do...but alas I was wrong. When the merchant apparently asked for the log book neither my mum or dad had a clue. This upset them so I said that I would help them.

With my smart phone in hand I photo'd the car. My dad seemed either bemused or maybe confused as to what I was doing. In days gone past you would just stick a "for sale" sign on the car window...not in this age of the internet and social media...and so with photos posted and short description we got the asking price for the car. In fact we could have sold it five times over!

That was the easy bit, the next bit signing the transfer of the log book, was so hard and I did not expect what I was going too witness. I explained and showed my father what had to be recorded and where to write. My mum had some paper and telling dad to practice writing his name? I could not believe it, my dad could not remember how to write his name. This upset my mum, it upset me as I knew and perhaps my mum knew that this could be a sign of early dementia.

I told my dad just to make a mark as best he could and as I watched I felt a tear in my eye. Also I was not sure if they both, especially my dad, really wanted to be rid of the car but I think it was in their best interest and they seemed pleased with the money.

...change of routine is tough...

We all make improvements to our homes, a conservatory, a kitchen extension...but do we really think that far ahead to make improvements for when we are older. Some will and most of us wont. Would we think of removing those steps to the front of the house or making the garden maintenance free or even perhaps think of having a downstairs loo if there is not one already. We may put money into a pension but do we put in enough. Our homes are our castles and we would like to think that we would stay in them until our dying days.

For some change is just a matter of life and they cope by being a fighter for they understand its necessity. But for many, sadly my neighbour was one, change seems to be bad and being elderly can affect one very severely. When my neighbour's wife died, and she was his rock in life, we saw the change and once or twice had aided him too.

As for my parents, they have considered downsizing, but as my sister and brother agree this maybe the wrong choice for them to make. Mother is frail and worries, dad is becoming more forgetful and so we believe a change in his surroundings may make him more confused than he is now.

But we rally round and we have helped them best we can. They do not need be placed in a home as with the lady above they have loving family around them. Sadly many elders will find places in homes such as Aspen Lodge, often where family have not been able to cope with the abilities of their elderly parents as they decline. So such a home offers a reassuring comfort...maybe not!

For today we holding a fair to raise funds for those in Aspen Lodge. It is with our local hospitals, friends' associations that make those little comfortable bits more bearable for both patients and staff to which ordinary funding would not cover.

So thinking about all this I say that growing old sucks. More worry, more afflictions, more confused more meds...but Mum and Dad just to let you know, I love you.

Don't get me wrong many old people are fitter and more sprite than I but do look out for the elderly as they looked out for you. Take care and God bless you all.

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