“My aging parent or elderly loved one – someone who was always robust and did so much – can’t do what they used to.”
I hear this all the time. People see it and they say it but they don’t always embrace it. We want to hang onto to the person we knew. The person who raised us or who we spent time with as a child or who was always there to stimulate and inspire us. Sometimes, however, those people change – they can’t do the things they used to – and that makes us sad or angry or frustrated.
The reality is you have to love the one you’re with. We can’t change our loved ones as they age. They can’t be who they were. We have to celebrate who they are – who they have become.
Now we may have to lead where they once led. It’s up to us to provide help – either personally or by arranging for professional services – we never expected them to need. We may have to deal with difficult subject and topics that we never wanted to consider, let alone discuss. We may laugh with them or cry with them or just be with them.
The time may come when the person you love is gone – they have changed so much they aren’t the person you knew. They don’t just have limitations but rather they are someone new. Someone you’ve never met before. That can be the most difficult situation of all. When it seems that someone else has replaced your loved one. This is when they need you the most. When dementia has impaired their cognition.
When you were little and growing up and becoming the person you are, your parents and loved ones dreamed of your future – of the person you would become. They hoped they did right by you. That their guidance would make you someone special. Well, this is the test. Unfortunately, however, they won’t be able to grade you or critique you or compliment you. You are going to have to do it and hope that you are passing – that you are getting an A. That you are caring for them in the way they would hope.
Here’s the thing – something everyone should consider and take comfort by – if your loved one could go back to the person they were – the person you know who raised you – and see what you’re doing – I know they would be proud of you. They would say, “I knew you could do it. I knew you were special.” Understand, they are never going to say it – they can’t. But if they could I know they would. And deep inside, you know they would too.
While caring for your loved one is going to be difficult it will definitely be worth it. Keep up the great work!