Too much vs. not enough: thoughts on elder care (#SFWApro)

Having to play parent to your parent is never a fun experience. It’s a mess of worry, concern, love, thoughts about mortality, frustration, and to some extent helplessness. Because after a certain point “getting better” doesn’t mean getting to well, just less ill. And contrary to some anti-Social Security scumbags, people can’t keep working and aren’t enjoying a publicly subsidized vacation (for more of the “old people just need to work longer, see here)

We’re a long way from being on death watch for Mum but it’s still stressful seeing her in poor shape during my recent trip. So a couple of thoughts occurred to me over the week:

•There’s no such thing as enough.

I’ve certainly done my part for Mum over the years. Helping with her computer, running errands when neither she nor her partner were up to it, house-sitting even when my schedule didn’t want to cooperate, and then visiting Maryland after she moved there, so that I could go to the doctor with her or sort out paperwork (and it needed sorting). But that doesn’t make all the stuff I’m still asked to do (which is much less now that my sister is in Fort Walton Beach with Mum) go away. It needs to be done. So I do it.

•There is such a thing as too much.

If my sister had to leave FWB for any reason, it would be a major problem for Mum-care (even though she’s in a good facility). If the only possible solution were for me to start commuting down there regularly… too bad. That’s more than I’m willing to sacrifice now that my life is here with TYG (even if Mum were in Durham I doubt I’d manage to visit every day the way Tracy does). I don’t know I’d donate a kidney if she needed one. I have limits and I won’t exceed them.

This completely contradicts my first point, but I think they’re both too. Everyone has to balance “too much” and “enough” on the scales for themselves. Some people are willing to sacrifice more money and time, and have enough of both to spare. Adult children with an abusive parent may not be able to stand any contact. Some adult children will just decide anything is too much and blow the whole thing off (I have an acquaintance in that category). Right? Wrong? There’s no absolute rule to say (which is not to say I don’t have opinions …).

Reading this over, I’m not sure this will help anyone dealing with these decisions and commitments. But for whatever it’s worth, there it is.

 

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