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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

How Do I Survive Living With an Elderly Father?

Elderly Man Making Face

Dadzilla Takes Tucson!


How Do I Survive
Living With
An Elderly Father?


 Since the elderly is the fastest growing segment of the population in the developed world, is it surprising that more adult children live with their senior parents? Health care costs are out of control, as are the rents of halfway decent assisted living facilities. For this reason and others, some of us are bound by duty or insanity to have one or both parents living in close proximity.

My mom passed away in January of 2008. My brother and sister-in-law covered a lot of her expenses when she moved into assisted living. If it weren't for that, Mom would have spent her waning days in some sub-par facility that the government qualifies as adequate. Because my brother had a large hand in providing for her, I felt inclined to help Dad. That's actually the minor reason, believe it or not. The major reason is that when one parent dies on you, it changes your perspective on life a bit. At least it did for me.

I hadn't gotten to see my mother for several years and I guess I didn't quite realize what the gravity of her situation was. She had fallen several times. She was getting thinner and thinner. Mom once asked me, “Wouldn't it be nice if I could just have a “touch” of anorexia? Not the whole thing, but just enough to lose some of this weight?” I don't think this is what she had in mind.

Finally, after one of these falls, she broke some ribs which punctured a lung. Most of her trouble was COPD, probably emphysema by that point too (yes, she smoked until her early 50s). She could ill-afford to lose anymore function in her breathing. She was asking for items from her room one minute, then it seems like the very next day she was gone. I guess the quickness was really a blessing in disguise. But...

I never got to say goodbye; I was in no financial condition to take off from work. It never really bothered me, even though I think about her every day. I didn't go to her funeral or remembrance event for her older grandkids to have closure. I wanted to remember her living life, not as a pile of ashes in some urn. I've never been to a single funeral in my life, and here I am almost 40. There's just something too macabre about it all, something that would give me too uncomfortable a brush with mortality, literally staring death in the face.

So, why am I telling you all of this? It is to help you understand the decision making process I went through. You see, after the trauma of one parent dying, you go through a whole range of emotions and thoughts. For me, it made me think of my other parent, who probably doesn't have too many years left either. He has always been incredibly hard to get along with. I would never have even entertained the notion before Mom passed, but there it was - glaring at me.

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