The United Methodist Reporter is offering the latest headlines in the RSS format.
AGING WELL: Helping adult children cope with aging parents Missy Buchanan, Aug 26, 2010
A middle-aged man hung up the phone and put his balding head into his hands. He had just learned that his 83-year-old mother was a victim of a stroke. She lived more than 300 miles away.
His mind was still spinning from the news. She had always been such a feisty thing, healthy and independent. The doctor’s prognosis was fairly positive, but there would definitely be changes in her lifestyle. This was the day he had always feared. The day he knew would turn everything upside-down in his mother’s life and his.
Ever since his father had died a decade ago, he had secretly wished that his aging mother would be able to stay in the house where she had lived for more than 50 years until she passed away in her sleep at a ripe old age.
No hospitals or home health care. No rehab. And certainly, no nursing homes.
Now he felt a sudden rush of uncertainty. Would she be able to return to her home? Would she need daily assistance? A walker? What would Medicare pay for? How would she get around?
Before stuffing a few clothes into his bag, he looked helplessly at the latest piece of technology he held in his hands. He didn’t have the slightest idea where to begin.
In this age when people are living longer than ever before, it is not an uncommon scenario. Adult children are finding themselves thrust into terrifying circumstances when a crisis strikes an aging loved one.
Even trying to decipher the unfamiliar eldercare lingo can be intimidating. Many don’t know the difference between assisted living and skilled nursing or exactly what an advanced medical directive is.
Over a year ago, I sat in the office of one of the associate ministers at my church, First United Methodist Church of Rockwall, Texas. We were discussing the increasing need for churches to get involved in helping adult children prepare for the challenges facing their aging parents.
From my own experiences with older adults, I had come to realize the growing number of adult children who were woefully unprepared to address real-life legal, financial, medical and spiritual issues that impact the well-being of their aging parents.
What has surprised me the most is how many adult children seem to be stuck in a state of denial about the realities of aging. Perhaps it is because they dread facing their own mortality. Or maybe it has to do with the way our anti-aging culture frowns upon aging, unless of course you are like Betty White who is still strutting her stuff on TV at age 88.
The truth is, most older adults will experience physical decline that will usher in a series of tough decisions.
On Sept. 25, my church is hosting a seminar, “Loving Your Aging Parent.” It will address a broad spectrum of eldercare issues that will help adult children and their aging loved ones to be better prepared for coming transitions.
There will be professional speakers on a variety of aging topics. Eldercare businesses will have booths with staff available to answer questions, knowing that every situation with an aging parent is unique.
One thing will set this event apart from many other events—a spiritual focus. Even with all the medical and legal aspects of aging, it is still a spiritual journey.
God designed bodies to change over time. As a community of believers, isn’t it is time we stepped up to help families face the challenges of an aging population?
Ms Buchanan is the author of Talking with God in Old Age: Meditations and Psalms (Upper Room Books). Visit the “Loving Your Aging Parent” Facebook page.