Introduction: Changing Relationships
The relationship between a parent and a child is established over many, many years. The love and respect one develops for a parent is entrenched before one moves out of the family home. When one grows older and establishes his or her own family with a spouse and children, the primary focus is on your own household. Visits to see parents, whether often or not, perpetuate the original relationship of love and respect for a parent. The idea of “parent” in a child’s mind, regardless of that child’s age, is the overarching concept that persists until that point in time when everything changes and the parent becomes dependent on the child. One knows that the day will come, but little more is paid to that eventuality than lip service.
Then it happens.
At the point of realization the child knows the roles are reversing, but often the parent does not. The transition is not always smooth and easy—especially when emotions flair for all involved. Frankly, at times there are resentments on both sides. The parent does not want to lose his or her independence and be treated as a child, and the child does not want to assume the duties of parent. What has happened? This is my mom (or dad) who is acting this way—and I should not have to be arguing with them or reprimanding them. This is backward! (You will have these thoughts.)
It is the making of the “executive” decisions, with or without discussion, that can lead to misgivings and hurt feelings. Add to that the need to direct behavior according to what is appropriate for the circumstance: “It’s 25° outside and, yes, too cold for you to go out.” Or, “You can’t come into the room with just your Pampers on!” Yes, it gets to that point.
In addition to the reversal of management in the family comes an array of disorders and diseases peculiar to the elderly. What do you know about diet and exercise for the elderly, or incontinence and stroke as well as a whole host of other “surprises” that will surely come your way? My guess is that other than general knowledge, you do not know everything that you should know to be able to offer your parent the elder-care they need and deserve. I confess that I did not have the knowledge when I needed it, and I was slow to get ahead of the learning curve. Eventually, I did, but it could have been so much easier on everyone. And I could have, should have, been so much better prepared.
By reading Mama Moves In, you get to be a “fly-on-the-wall.” You’ll read about a number of experiences, most (if not all) that you will encounter, too. I’m talking first-hand, as-if-you-were-there, details that everyone who cares for an elder parent will have to face in one form or another. Whether it’s the first time Mama Jus got lost, or when she accused me of starving her, or when she fell in the shower and overflowed the drain—you can learn from my mistakes. Some of our family’s stories are funny and some are sad, but all are true.
Also, within the pages of Mama Moves In, you will get the full benefit of my years of internet research: organized and categorized internet sites covering just about every topic you will need in preparing for, as well as caring for, your elderly parent: Alcohol and Alzheimer’s to Emotions, Insomnia and Medicare to Long-Term Care, Stroke and Vision, plus many, many more—all of them are on the InformationResearchPro-ProductResearchPro CD enclosed with this book.
Being prepared will make your job so much easier than it was for me. And that’s the reason for this book—to make your job easier! This is your chance to honor your parent for the years of loving care they gave you as a child, so make the most of it. Read the experiences (I call them “happenings”) closely and make good use of the internet sites that will be found for you so you can take the best possible care of your loved one.
Learn how to assess, decide, prepare
and cope--now, rather than later.