Sunday, August 16, 2009

Thinking Ahead; The Golden Years

My Dad is 72 and I don't think of him as *elderly*. He has a very active life and between him and my stepmother, who is a bit younger, they take full time care of my 42 year old brother "Clark", who has Huntingtons Disease.

My Mother-In-Law is 73 and she spends summers with family, she still travels and winters alone in Arizona. I do not think of her as elderly either. She has had a knee replacement and gets around like Mario Andretti from all accounts. She is spunky and happy... but I've seen her ups and downs as she's adjusted from life as a stay at home wife, to selling her home after her husband passed away. It was very difficult, and getting through that kind of transition took a lot of courage. I've always admired her for her "GO GET 'EM" attitude. She makes me realize that life is about living and not about where you live it.

My Grandmother is 93 and yes, she is elderly, but was running a roto-tiller well into her 80's. She still gardens some and has too much spunk to let anyone take care of her. Why, that would be an insult! It helps that her husband (she was widowed), is 20 years younger. Go Grandma! They cut wood and sell it for extra income and I believe although she is pretty well *set* financially, she's no fool. She still strives to bring in some money and save all she can. Thats a lesson learned during The Great Depression, and making do a lot not just because you have to, but because it's the RIGHT thing to do.

My husbands Father is remarried and he is 79, and she is 89. They are entering the elderly stage. It's a fact. Dad is in good health, but is having occasional issues, and Mom's had back and ankle surgery years ago, and neither healed right. She lives in constant pain. Dad is a good caretaker, but who's taking care of him?

All this rambling about my aging loved one makes something crystal clear to me; We are here to serve each other. My husband and I can't always be where we are needed, as family is spread all over the place, but at the same time, we are more than willing to help by offering a home to any of our parents who need it when the time comes.

Our current plans are to expand into our garage and add on new garage along the same roofline, or maybe make a larger shop/garage on our side lot. The new addition will hopefully be plumbed and have a private entrance. This would give us the ability to put a small shower and toilet to accomodate anyone who needs this as private quarters. We must plan ahead and be as prepared as possible. Our home is not huge, but even "as is" would accomadate another person. I just know all my family and they would love a private place where they would feel safe, yet close.

Isn't that my job to give them this as much as possible? How will you prepare for your parents as they age? What can we do to be a servant to them? This question has been on my mind recently and I have come up with a few answers, but mostly; love them with the love of Christ and be there for them. We can't cure an illness, or take away all the pain. But being there to hold their hand and let them know they are loved is the best plan of all.
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