Children of Aging Adults: The Aging Ladder
By Todd Lacy, Masonic Communities Kentucky CFO
Many of us children of aging adults continue to face the daunting realization of how unprepared we are to deal with the aging adults in our lives. We have our own challenges, responsibilities and needs that may over shadow the needs of mom and dad. No matter how much we try to put these thoughts out of our mind and lock them away, we know that time is working against us. There will come a time when we will have to deal with the issue that has been quietly growing in the back of our minds and theirs. We all want to make sure our parents are taken care of and safe as they begin to climb the aging ladder, but none of us are prepared or knowledgeable enough to know what to do if an unexpected situation arises. We know full well that one unforeseen event could reshape the lifespan of mom or dad if proper preparation and steps are not taken. Internally, we ask ourselves what can be done to help our parents navigate the inevitable aging ladder.
When the unforeseeable circumstance happens to a parent, many of us are often overwhelmed and unprepared to face the multiple decisions, considerations and factors that arise in a very short period of time. So there we stand, the child of an aging adult, alone, emotionally drained, holding our parents in the middle of the ladder — what do I do?
Many times, once an unanticipated circumstance occurs, children of aging adults decide to move their parents into their homes or to a condo or apartment close by. After all, who better to care for or look out for mom or dad than family? A family meeting is held, everyone is actively involved pledging their support to see that they receive the best care imaginable. It’s the least everyone can do since our parents did so much for each one of us growing up. It’s only fair that we return the favor. Our parents sacrificed so much in their lives to help us become the person we are today. Without them, we would not be in the position to help. We will do whatever it takes to push or pull our loved ones to the top of the aging ladder.
A few months go by and confusion and frustration sets in. We are completely exhausted. The task of taking care of our parents has consumed our lives and our families. It appears they have digressed further down the aging ladder rather than moving up. We are losing our grip and no matter how hard we push or pull, they are still slipping down the ladder. There is so much more that we need to do for them. After all, no one can take care of our parents like our own family can. However, we do not understand what else we need to do and feel we have done absolutely everything for them and been at their beckoning call. Days of work have been missed, family outings have been cancelled, family dinners are no more and we have not spent time with our own children in weeks. Frustration sets in as we have poured our heart and soul into making sure every need and want has been met. But still they are sliding down the aging ladder — what do I do?
Us children of aging adults must come to an understanding that the safest way to climb the ladder and navigate through the journey is one person at a time. A ladder is not built to have multiple people on it at the same time and the only way to move forward is to allow the individual to determine how high they can climb on their own and then determine what is needed for them to take the next step. Without the right support, climbing up the ladder feels like scaling a cliff or mountain. Aging adults must move their journey independently in order for professionals to understand how to address the next issue. If they are not doing it independently, no one can determine what the next best course of action is in order to help them continue aging while moving in a positive direction. We cannot climb the ladder for them, nor can we push or pull them up. When it comes to helping a loved one navigate the aging journey, children of aging adults need to reach out to organizations that specialize in helping families find the best aging care options for their loved ones.
Aging care organizations specialize in evaluating, assisting and helping aging adults with the daunting task of climbing the aging ladder. They are experienced in helping them reach the next step on their own without assistance from others, which then in return provides them a sense of accomplishment and dignity. They guide and address each and every step and ensure our parents continue to move in the right direction.
It is never too early to reach out to an aging care community or organization. They are there to help both us adult children and our loved ones. These communities and organizations are designed to make climbing the aging ladder less stressful for all those involved. They provide us with the comfort of knowing our parents are receiving the care they deserve, which ensures that we can now fully enjoy our time with them while still having time to resume our family outings and dinners and spend more time with our children.
- How to Care for Aging Parents by Virginia Morris
- How to Say It to Seniors – Closing the Communication Gap with our Elders by David Solie, M.S., P.A.