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Gen. Chat “Dealing with Aging Parents” by LeeChan

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LeeChan 2 years ago on 07/10/12
Equipped: Keys to the Pussy Wagon named "My name is Buck, and I came to cook duck."
A thread of support for those dealing with aging parents.

My mom is having surgery tomorrow. She is 65 years old and only recently has her age become apparent to me. About four years ago she had spinal surgery, and you might assume that would have been a huge deal. I faced my fears about worst case scenarios at that point and came out okay. I mean, spinal surgery, you would think that that would be fucking major surgery. She did just fine.

Then last summer she had some routine knee surgery. It was performed in a surgical center, not a hospital. The kind of surgery where you come in in the morning and leave by the afternoon. Everything went fine, or so I thought. It wasn't until a month later that one of her friends let it slip that she flatlined on the surgical tale and they had to use a crash cart. On fucking routine surgery.

Well tomorrow she's having a total knee replacement. Which I didn't think was major surgery, but I guess they're telling me it's bigger than the spinal surgery. For the spinal surgery she was in the hospital only over night. For this surgery she'll be in the hospital for three days. Tonight I had to hold her as she cried. I can tell she's scared. Which scares me. This woman, this amazing woman who immigrated to the US not speaking a word of English and who raised me by herself, is scared.

I'm looking for support. When was the first time you really realized that your parents were aging? How did you handle this? How do you transition to becoming the strong support for you parents?
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Devil Fruit Bubble Tea 2 years ago on 07/10/12
Equipped: Explosive Collar. You are not Super-Lucky.
I first realized my parents were mortal when I saw my dad after heart surgery and he had staples in his chest. I was lucky growing up, because I never realized how serious it was when my mother was being treated for breast cancer.

When I was in high school, my dad has a second stroke and couldn't walk or speak clearly anymore. For the next few years, we spent our days towards taking care of him. I never realized how weak I was until onetime I was unable to transfer him from his bed to his wheelchair

Just as my family was there for me when I was growing up, family is there to take care of each other when we each grow old. (At least, in my family).
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SailorJoon 2 years ago on 07/10/12
Equipped: The Auryn
My dad has type 2 diabetes and doesn't take care of himself. He seems to be doing fine these days but there have been scares. I've been mentally preparing myself for his death for years now but I think when he finally does pass, I'll probably have a nervous breakdown.

My mom has done a great job taking care of him but I hate to think of what would happen if she dies first. I honestly don't know if I would be able to step up. Part of me just doesn't want to think about any of it.

Since I live at home, I try to check up on both of my parents when I can. I really want to write them a letter telling them how much I love them (I wouldn't be strong enough to do it in person) because I just don't know when I could lose them.
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Madam GMILF 2 years ago on 07/11/12
Equipped: Kato Mask named "Ha! Now I am incognito!"
Dad died of cancer when I was 15. His last few weeks of life, until the final few days, were at home. Older house, not built with wheelchairs in mind. It sucked seeing him so weakened when this is the guy who would play ball and fly kites with us and could fix ANYTHING.

With mom, I noticed by her actions and words when I would call her (lived 2000 miles away) that she was declining; brought her out here for a couple visits then moved her out here for good early 2006 when a trip I made back east revealed that she was not really capable of making sound decisions.

She got hit by a car in April of 2009 and refused to go to a hospital; 2 months after that she had a stroke. After she recovered from the stroke, I had her living with me for a year; over that period of time she was diagnosed with dementia. I moved her into a nursing home and petitioned for legal guardianship after some drama; now I carry a cell 24/7 because I can get (and have gotten) calls at all hours of the night because she has been falling a lot. She now has a fractured humerus; i know that after breaks older people are more prone to pneumonia or other infections that cause them to deteriorate rapidly. She's 84, and it's not a smooth transition to become support, it's just something you do because it has to be done.

I am sorry you are going through this, Lisa. It is scary and humbling to watch.
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Bad Wolf 2 years ago on 07/11/12
Equipped: Sigil From Ed Elric's Coat named "Equivalent Exchange"
Where did your mom immigrate from? Just curious, I think that stuff is really cool.

I'm really sorry to hear you're going through this. I think about this stuff with my grandparents a lot - now that sounds weird, because normally you'd think people think of their grandparents as "elderly" for the majority of their lives, but I never did until the last several years.

They have always been active throughout my entire life, and they were basically the ones that raised me aside from my mother. When I had to get picked up from school from the nurse's office, it was my grandparents. When I had doctors appointments or stuff like that and my mom couldn't do it, my grandparents did. They took me to museums, different activities to do during the seasons (pumpkin picking, festivals and fairs across the island, etc.). And even though they were retired for the majority of time I've been alive, they've always been incredibly active with different things, like church functions or my grandma's gardening club, or my grandpa's Korean War Veteran events. They would go on vacations and travel. They always kept busy.

Even when my grandma had her heart surgery when I was 15, it still didn't dawn on me that she was "old". I remember when I was around 17 years old I was in the car with them and I made a comment about "some old lady, I don't know, in her seventies or something", and they just looked at me and said, "that's our age", and it stumped me because I didn't even think of it. I forgot what I was talking about, but in this context I would never have even dreamed of putting my grandparents into the same category as whoever this "old lady" was I was talking about.

It wasn't until I moved from New York about 4 years ago that they really started to slow down - noticeably. I guess it's true that they say children keep people young, and how funny that they started to pretty dramatically as soon as the first born grandchild they helped raised left the nest. My grandfather got some sort of arthritis in his knee and it got warped - like, it bent at a weird angle from the side, and he had to get surgery to get it fixed. He still walks with a cane. He has glaucoma and is now declared officially legally blind, and he can barely see anything. He can't drive.
My grandma has slowed up a lot. She gets more easily frustrated when it comes to memory, and she can't walk for very far distances without needing to sit down and rest.

It never really used to be like this and it really makes me sad. I feel guilty that I live so far away from them and when I really think about it hard, I'll find myself breaking down into tears because I miss them so much and I dread the day that they won't be around anymore, because of that in of itself and because I'll feel guilty because there should have been more time that could have been spent with them.

You just have to believe in your mother's strength, and know that she'll get through this. Everyone gets scared, you just need to be brave for her and know that she'll recover and be right back to her ol' self again (or at least hope for that, and do the best that you both can).
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coopaloop 2 years ago on 07/11/12
Equipped: Coupon For Free N00dz
I come from a family where we don't really deal with it whenever possible. We just kid of assume people will pull through, which is so odd to me because both my parents lost their fathers at very early ages. I try not to think about my parents aging, I just kid of try to spend time with them ow without fear of the future. I will say however that my biggest fear is losing my father I try to spend as much time with him as possible because I don't know what I would do without him but I know he's getting older...though only 62.

Thank you for letting me share.

Lisnork my thoughts are with you and your mother. and remember, any time you have surgery where you have to go under is considered major surgery.
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LeeChan 24 months ago on 07/23/12
Equipped: Keys to the Pussy Wagon named "My name is Buck, and I came to cook duck."
Thank you guys for posting. It takes a lot of strength to talk about this, and I think you all are very brave for taking on the role of support for your parents/grandparents.

My mom is out of the hospital and doing well. She has good days and bad days and just days where she is in a lot of pain.

Before the surgery she was kind of excited to have me stay with her and help around the house. But like, 3 days into her being home she just wanted to get rid of me. Then I tried visiting her recently to do laundry for her and she basically shooed me out of the house after a few hours. I feel bad! I want to come visit her, I want to stay with her and watch after her. But she's really not happy to be relying on me.

How do I get her to understand that these are the things I want to do? She's not a burden to me!
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cleversmartass 24 months ago on 07/23/12
Equipped: Kick In The Nads named "PWNing nads, one nad at a time"
My guess isn't that she is worried about being a burden on you, it's more like she wants to do it on her own. It can make you feel helpless relying on other people, especially when you are used to do x, y, and z chores the past (insert number) years.

When you say 65, to me that isn't that old. If I get a patient that age I am pretty happy because they are (usually) pretty self sufficient. So it could be you are treating her like she is more fragile than she actually is. Now I haven't been on an ortho floor before, but my understanding of the ortho world is to getting the person moving sooner than later.
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marinasaurus rex 24 months ago on 07/24/12
Equipped: Shark With Frickin' Laser named "Raymond"
Coming from the side of wanting to be self sufficient but not being able to be because of health issues, I can say it's super duper hard to get used to asking people for help (I still am adjusting!)! I'm sure she knows you want to be there for her, it's just really hard to accept that you need help doing laundry/cooking/cleaning just normal things that you feel you should be able to do!

It sounds like your mom is a huge bad ass so it makes the situation even more difficult! All I can say is just be there for her, try not to smother her too much, but maybe just let her know that it's ok to ask for help and that it doesn't mean she's any less of who she is by doing so.

Also remind her the situation isn't permanent! (and that probably the more she lets you help her, the faster she will be healed!) Seriously, being reminded that this isn't going to be your life forever is really helpful. (to me at least)

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