As boomers, we are facing the prospects of having to care for our parents in their old age. Becoming ‘parent of your parent’ is a USATODAY article that brought a lot of memories about my own grandmother.
During the 70’s I was in the army and returned back home in 1980. During that time, my maternal grandparents had deteriorated to the point where they could no longer live on their own. There wasn’t enough money to put both of them in a home so they were separated. Grandpa was placed in the teacher’s retirement home and grandma came to live with my parents.
My grandparents had been together for over 50 years and I could tell that separating them had been a gut wrenching decision for my parents as well as my aunts and uncles. Not long after grandma went to live with my parents, everyone in the house had to learn to adjust to each other in new ways. It did not make it easy that grandma was, slowly but surely, losing her mind.
I don’t mean that she was going crazy but, you could tell that her mind was going bit by bit. She would wake up at odd hours of the day and night and try to leave the house. In her mind, she was not ‘home’ and she wanted to get back ‘home’ and back to her husband. As her mind deteriorated, my younger siblings got the brunt of it because sometimes she could get a bit rough with them.
None of us really knew if she had Alzheimer’s or if her condition was a result of senility, after all, she was in her mid-eighties. Although there were good times, in a sense, they served to make even more poignant all the other times. There was a specific incident that, for me, defined grandma’s deterioration. Once, in the middle of the night, she needed to go to the bathroom; she confused the closet with the bathroom and proceeded to go potty.
It has been over 20 years since grandma passed and now, reading the USATODAY article, it gives me pause that we may yet have to go through the same situation with my own parents. Today they are in their seventies and living a healthy, independent life in their own home. I have to admit, however that even contemplating the possibility of seeing the people who took care of me all my life in a similarly deteriorated state is almost more than I can bear.
What do you think?
Are you having to take care of your parents? Are you and your family going through the decision process of whether or not to place your parents in a home? What is the biggest difference you see in your parents before and now?