Author Archives: cvillevillageblog
Adult children frequently find caring for their aging parents very frustrating. “He’s been taking that medication for 20 years! How can he not remember to take it now?” “Their house is a mess, and I don’t have the time to do it for them.” I’ve never met anyone more stubborn, in my life,than my mother, now that Dad’s gone.” The litany goes on. Where does all that frustration come from, what does it mean, and is there any cure for it?
As young children of comparatively young parents, we looked to our parents for guidance, role models, safety and security. Our parents weren’t perfect, but they generally did their best for us. We got frustrated with them then, too, but under different circumstances and for different reasons. When we were teenagers, our parents often didn’t agree with our adolescent decisions and choices, whether over the clothes we wanted to wear, the music we listened to, the friends we chose, or the places we wanted to go. We thought we were old enough to make those decisions. We were invincible, with little concern for the statistics that showed clearly we were not invincible.
To me, the most challenging aspect of aging is how insidious it is. It’s like the fog that comes in on little cat feet, as the poem reads. Someone once asked me how I knew when I was a grown-up. I decided that I knew that I was an adult when I ceased turning cartwheels. What was it about cartwheels that made me change my perception of myself? And why did my status change, in my own eyes, when I ceased to do something I had previously done, almost without thinking about it? That’s what aging does: one withdraws from engaging in the activities one had previously enjoyed. I ran, biked, shoveled dirt in the summer and snow in the winter, played softball or volleyball,weeded, mowed the lawn, walked the dogs, pruned trees. In my early forties, I began having back spasms, and repetitive motion tingling in my hands. So I stopped doing cartwheels. Twenty years later, I’ve begun to yield on other activities.
…and a quarterly publication about issues and events of interest to Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation. Here’s the link: http://www.sahp.vcu.edu/vcoa
- Tuesday, May 6 – midnight to midnight
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When my sister and I were growing up, moms did not, as a rule, work outside the home. My mother was bored silly staying at home by herself, once we began school. She found a job as an educational docent at a local museum, where she worked in the natural history section taking school groups on tours. The only problem with this was that we came home from school for lunch.
There was a family on our street comprised of a woman and her six children. Her husband was in the military and away for long periods of time, and money was an issue for them. My parents arranged for Mrs. G to provide a hot lunch for us each school day, and in so doing provided a little extra money for that family.
Many years later, my parents were the “older couple” on their street. Mom took the family dog out for a walk twice a day. The dog had turned out to be larger than expected, and one day, as 78-year old Mom was walking the youthful and energetic dog, the dog lunged for a squirrel, causing Mom to fall down and be dragged several feet down the street.
A neighbor witnessed this, and the neighbor’s first action was to get both home and get Mom cleaned up. Her second action was to appear at the door every afternoon for as long as the dog lived there, and take the dog for a walk. The neighbor knew how much Mom loved her dog, and how unsafe it would have been for Mom to continue those daily walks.
These two images formed my concept of “neighbor”– people who lived in relationship to each other, on a variety of levels, and who found ways to help each other in ways that made life a little easier and more complete for each other.
My favorite aunt had lived in New York City for fifty years. She loved New York, especially the theater and dance that were available there. In her youth, she’d been incredibly generous, inviting me to spend weekends with her. My first theater experience was a performance of My Fair Lady, with Rex Harrison and Julie Andews on stage, and from age 8 on, I was her frequent guest.
As my aunt reached age 75, she began to have difficulties in her New York apartment: access to groceries meant a trek across a very busy, multi-lane street. Managing her apartment became more of a challenge. So she made the decision to move to a retirement community that offered the full range of care milieus– independent or assisted living, and nursing home care.
At first, independent living worked out well. She made many new friends, and volunteered in the local schools. She took advantage of the community outings for theater and ballet and museums. She hosted afternoon teas in her apartment.