What Should I Do With My Aging Parents

A Little Lesson

Read the transcript of this video below.

What do you do with your elderly parents? Part two.

Picture of daughter walking with elderly parent

We should be motivated by love for our children to take care of ourselves and to eat a healthy diet, get some exercise, get enough sleep and rest and sunshine and so forth, because that could be considered, not a sign of laziness or a sign of being too focused on yourself, but trying to stay healthy for the sake of your loved ones who, if you become ill, will be forced to focus a lot on you. And none of us want that. Right? None of us want that.

So, taking care of yourself is a form of loving your neighbor as yourself so as not to be a burden upon anyone. This is not to make anyone feel bad who finds themselves not being able to be independent and having to rely upon their children because they’re disabled or something like that, okay? But I’m just speaking to those of us who are still living independently. I love my children very much and I sure don’t want my children to be burdened with my care in my senior years. So, I’m going to try to take care of myself and have a healthy lifestyle. So, let that be a little word at the beginning here. Okay, so, now what to do with your elderly parents.

Well, so many folks struggle with this decision because it’s such a difficult decision. It’s so hard to say to your mom or your dad, “Mom or dad, we can’t care for you. It’s too much or we can’t afford to care for you, to bring in private helpers to assist you because it’s just out of reach.” Again it’s different in every situation. About half the people who retire in the United States retire before they intended to retire and for many of them it’s because of their own health or the health of a loved one whom they need to take care of.

So, it’s very hard to hold down a job and take care of a loved one full-time. Someone who needs you close by all the time. That’s what I tried to do with my dad as I told you in the last little lesson. It was all me taking care of my disabled father, who was disabled because of a stroke. In the process, I myself had a stroke. Now, not a full blown stroke thankfully. A mini stroke, a TIA, or a transient ischemic attack. It was a scary thing. Put me in the hospital for two days and then loads of tests and follow up visits to cardiologists and neurologists and neurosurgeons. It was life changing. Here’s the continuation of yesterday’s story. My dad was at home for months living with me after his debilitating stroke.

He knew he was burdening me a great deal and he felt concerned, even guilty about that but he justified it, understandably. But after I had my mini stroke, he saw the light and realized that by expecting me to care for him, it was killing me. So, he did a 180 in his attitude and said, “You know what? I want to go into assisted living.” I don’t know whether he was being honest or not because he was so adamantly opposed to it for months and months. Through all the trials and tribulations of him being at home with us, I think he was trying to alleviate me of the guilt that he knew I would sense putting him into assisted living.

I visited him every evening, because it wasn’t that far away, and every time I would just think, “I can’t believe I put my dad in this place.” Nobody wants to be in those places because people there, they’re all in a sad condition. At various stages of getting close to the end. Some are really in bad shape and it’s just heartbreaking to be there and to have them all together. It just doesn’t seem right. That’s one reason why I do admire anybody who tries to take care of their own elderly parents themselves.

I admire anyone who tries and I certainly tried. My wife certainly tried but it just became unreasonable. So, I’m only telling you this story to maybe help you in your own decision if you’re in a place of trying to make a decision. It’s gotta be one of the most difficult decisions there is to put an elderly parent in an assisted living facility. Now, for some it’s an easy decision, because after a massive stroke, they could be completely debilitated and it would be impossible for them to be anywhere but under skilled nursing. That’s something else I think I should mention here in the last couple minutes that I have with you and that would be the importance of having a document that indicates to your loved ones, signed by you, I think they call it a living will that if you would reach a place where you’re close to death, you don’t want certain medical interventions.

That you just want to go to heaven because that is what’s happening if you’re a believer in Jesus. So, why prolong it? Who wants to be living a life as a vegetable and just on life support being kept alive by machines? But doctors are obligated to do that to a degree but if you could make it easier on your loved ones and the doctors as well by stipulating prior to anything like that happening, “Here’s what I want you to do and here’s what I don’t want you to do.” If my heart stops beating, don’t try to get it going again. If I stop breathing, don’t try to get me breathing again. Don’t stick anything in me to try to keep me alive. I want to go be with Jesus.

That’s an act of love. Loving your neighbor as yourself because you don’t want to be a burden on somebody and you don’t want to hang around on earth any longer than what God wants you to. What did people do before all these medical miracles that we have? They just died and if they were believers of course, it’s far greater to depart and to be with Christ. Amen. All right. Out of time for today’s lesson. Thank you so much for listening and joining me today. Hope to see you again next time.