Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Watching parents age


As I get older, one of the scariest things is watching my parents age. There is something frightening about watching your parents aging, have accidents, and become frail.

My mum is quite healthy. Since having breast cancer 15 years ago, she changed her life by combining an active and relaxed lifestyle. She eats healthy and does yoga; as well as finds moments to unwind and relax from work. She had cancer relatively young, and she was able to bounce back quickly.

My dad just had cancer this year, at the age of 67. He can't relax at all, and has fallen back into old patterns of working too much and not adopting any healthy lifestyle choices, other than eating soup standing up because he is so anxious. Recently, my mother phoned us one morning at 7am to let us know that my dad fell into the swimming pool and hurt his elbow so badly that he needed stitches. He was in the University hospital Emergency all day. He swore he tripped, but we all know he lost his balance. And then he spent the entire day the next day in the office. At the age of 67, he won't slow down and he won't listen to us. If a cancer scare didn't stop him, then what will?

That morning, I was so stressed out thinking of all the what if's - my dad could have hit his head and drowned in the pool. It is really getting scary for me to see my parents age. My dad kind of reminds me of my grandfather now, with the spots on his hand and his shiny bald spot. And especially the way he walks so slowly. And he reminds me of my grandmother in the ways he repeats things 15 times.

He is aging, and I really don't know how to deal with it. When he was sick, he let me take care of him every day which was so great because we got to spend time together. It's times like these where I really wish I had a brother or sister to help me care for him. But now, he just wants to carry on like the Energizer Bunny when he's not exactly at the right age to do so. I can't force him to stay home and rest, or imprison him in the house when he wants to keep himself busy. At his age, you can't really tell them what to do!

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3 comments

  1. Sorry your feeling this way Alexandra. It must be frightening feeling like this all the time.

    I'll give you a little bit of perspective; some food for thought if you will. My boss is 80 years old; a doctor and in pretty good health for his age. Financially, he does not need to work; he probably could have retired 20 years ago. This is why he said he hasn't: that as long as he can work and provide excellent health care for his patients (which he does - they really adore him) he will continue to live a fulfilling, productive life.

    It gives him purpose to get up in the morning and get ready to go to work. He said that he feels that as long as he keeps working he will go on and that as soon as he retires his life will become meaningless and monotonous and that he will be basically be tending to the garden and wait for death to come get him. He has a loving family but in his mind he still has purpose as long as he works. He loves his family but he also loves his job and constantly keeping busy. He needs this he says. Maybe your dad is feeling this way. That taking his work away and retiring will mean that his life will no longer have purpose. He should slow down but some people can't or don't know how. He will probably rebelled against anyone that will tell him otherwise.

    Hugs for you and your family and this must be difficult to deal with.

    Millie B

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  2. Your post made me sad. I live far from my mom and everytime I go back my heart ached when I see she has a new wrinkle. Seeing our parents age is awful because you don't want time to pass. My only comfort is to enjoy as much as we can the moments when we are together.
    I think in the case of your dad, he loves being a very active person and is something difficult to change since personality comes from very early age.
    The only thing left to do is to monitor that he eats healthy and try to make some walking during the day. Small healthy habits really improve a person's life.

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  3. Ah... This is something that bothers me too and something I try to actively avoid. I do not want to live in India. And they are there. At the same time, I like to have my own house and do not want parents living in with me all the time. It changes the dynamics. So, I have to have 2 flats to accommodate every one. Tough. And I am not planning on living in Sg forever. I want to move out. Where do we go next?! Too many questions.

    It is painful when your parents do not take care of their health actively and do things like they are forever 16. I have no idea how to explain to them. My mom has mild diabetes. She still ignores my advice on managing her sugar and claims she is fine and her sugar is under control. Of course, it is normal because she takes pills. And she wants to take them than do the tough job of managing her blood sugar levels by regulating food. She says okay okay and then does whatever she wants. So frustrating.

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