in our current times, life expectancies have changed. where i live, there are many people who live into their 80’s and beyond.
many of them are our parents.
over the years, i have made an observation. my parents and my aunts and uncles did well as they aged. they cruised through their 70’s. eventually, however, medical conditions caught up to them. they went from being elderly to being fragile. fragility takes on a new dimension on one’s life. it impacts one’s abilities to perform activities of daily living. items such driving a car, walking, and doing laundry can become difficult if not impossible.
the children of these fragile seniors inevitably must take on the role of a parent. sometimes, the consequences of not addressing an elderly parent’s deficiencies can impact traumatic to society.
an example of this problem is drivers’ licenses. there is a time in which an elderly person must relinquish their driver’s license.
there is the famous santa monica farmer’s market incident which shows the society impact that an elderly driver can have.
in that incident, an 86 year old killed nine adults and a 2-year-old and injured more than 70 people. ny times perhaps, if he had children who had recognized that this elderly individual had difficulties with respect to driving, they could have convinced him to turn in his drivers’ license. the tragedy could have been averted.
on a micro scale, failure of the children to become the parent can impact the parent’s quality of life. this failure can lead to invalidity and possible death.
there are a number of things that children can do to assist fragile parents. new technologies: alexa, smart phones, and uber are items that can improve or assist in the quality of life. elderly proofing homes: going through their parents residences and removing items that can cause falls, installing motion lighting, putting shower or bath bars in the restrooms, and making ingress and egress from the residence as safe as possible, ie such as placing “no slip” tape on steps.
taking steps to assist a parent is not easy. they will most likely be resistant. they are stuck in their ways. they will be stubborn. therefore, this will not be an easy achievement. it takes time and effort to get them on board. sometimes, it can be very frustrating. frustration is not grounds to give up.
in my family, we siblings spend a majority of our time interacting about our parents and their needs. there is no time to rest on one’s achievements in the field. there must be constant attention as to their state of being and what can be done to improve it.
getting their medical professionals involved has been helpful. we, as children, have been permitted by our parents to interact with their providers to assist in successful medical treatment and care. the providers have been very open to our participation.
in sum, at some point in your life, you may be honoring your parents by being their parent. it is not easy. it takes time. however, if it is done properly, you can avert tragedies and improve both their quality of life and yours. a child having a fragile parent’s lifestyle under control can be a blessing for all.
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