Your parents have cared for you for many years; there may well be a time when you will take care of them. My message to today’s kids would be to better anticipate and prepare for their potential role as a caregiver.
Both my own parents aged and were stricken with serious health conditions (Mom had Leukemia and Dad had Alzheimer’s disease). Like many others, I never expected this to happen and had to scramble when both were diagnosed. There was nothing, medically, that could be done to cure either condition, so I could only watch helplessly and provide support, where and when I could. My new responsibilities included moving Mom and Dad repeatedly, shuttling them to and from doctor’s appointments, assuming their banking responsibilities, picking up medications and advocating for my father as his Joint Guardian and Alternate Trustee. Care-giving became a full-time job which I had to balance with my own career, classes and social life.
Watching both my parents decline (Dad got to the point of totally forgetting who I was …) was deeply distressing. I experienced frustration, disappointment and grief. As both my parents were intensely private, I had never truly known them, so I struggled with the idea of losing them along with losing a relationship I never had.
Although Mom and Dad are now gone, I am a good student, have learned from this experience and am working to educate others through my first book, entitled Caregiver’s Guide for Canadians (published by Self-Counsel Press). In this guidebook for prospective, new and current caregivers, I share my own care-giving story, provide resources to help those in this situation and discuss numerous issues of importance to caregivers.