Let’s talk about getting old for a minute. Or more specifically, caring for our loved ones as they get old.
But first I’ll preface this post by saying that, although we both write openly and honestly about our lives; mostly our parenting experiences, I do admit to censoring what I write about when it involves other family members. In this case though, I feel it’s an important topic to discuss and one that might resonate with others.
My family is relatively young compared to other people my age. My parents are under 50 (just) and one of my Nan’s was a Grandmother at 34! But these past few months we have been hit by the realisation that our loved ones are getting older and the impact that can have on the rest of the family.
One of those times was the passing of Kaine’s granddad a couple of months ago. And although he was 96 and my side of the family is much younger, my family are facing struggles in this arena too.
Recently one of my Grandmother’s was diagnosed with dementia. Due to circumstances within the family I have found myself becoming one of the ‘primary caregivers’ I suppose you could say. I entered the world of all things ‘old people’ and found myself knee-deep in social workers, senior living options, care providers, doctors and having absolutely no idea what I was doing.
I want to help, please don’t misunderstand. I want my Nan to be taken care of, be surrounded by family and enjoy quality of life as she still has a lot of life to live.
But as I sat in a meeting with her newly appointed case manager and we talked about care plans and medical services and what to do if Nan gets lost almost as if she wasn’t even in the room, my eyes filled and my throat closed.
This is too much. It’s too overwhelming. What if I make the wrong decision. What if she gets so sad and lonely and confused she’d rather not live in this world anymore.
I already feel so full with an energetic toddler and a growing belly that will soon become a newborn, sending me back into the haze of cluster feeding and unbelievable exhaustion. I don’t know if I can do it.
But here’s what I do know. My Nan deserves to feel loved, wanted and cared for at a time when she must be so afraid and lonely. I honestly don’t care who’s feelings might have been hurt in the past by different circumstances within the family or who was at fault. She is a mother, a Grandmother, and has survived the passing of two husbands that she loved dearly. She’s a person.
Yes it’s scary and overwhelming. It might even feel like an obligation at times, a hassle. But I know in my heart that doing all I can to help is the only option. I can’t promise that I’ll always make the right choices or that I will be able to be available all the time. But I’ll do what I can.
I love you Nan.