Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Sandwich Generation Weekend

I've blogged on this subject before. While I hate to be a broken record, I feel the need to share again.

My dad is 90, and my son is turning 6 next month.

It was a long, snowy weekend here in NY, since yesterday was a school holiday. My dad stayed with us since his aide went home, and he just returned to his house 1/2 hour ago via a car service dedicated to the elderly. I'm glad that he didn't have to drive himself in the snow, even though he prides himself on being independent car-wise.

It was a tension-filled weekend for me, and I felt like I was snappy. I hate being that way, but I couldn't help myself. I'm thrilled that my son and dad got to spend quality time (they sleep in the same room...my dad in a rollaway bed), but my dad did nothing but complain the whole weekend about how he feels.

His life has become a rollercoaster of making doctor rounds. At times it feels like he's in search of a magic pill to relieve all his ailments.

I find myself telling him that as a 40 something mom, I don't feel as great as I did 20 years ago. In fact, my dad looked at photo in my office taken when I was in my 20s and had a fulltime job in PR. It happened to be a shot of me with Bob Hope...my company had done an event with him...and I was thrilled to have the chance to talk with him. But, yes, I looked younger, and my dad commented on how different I looked.

So, there you have it...we all age. As much as we might love to turn back the clock, we can't.

So, what to tell a 90 year old? Friends tell me to listen partly with a deaf ear when he complains. But, that's easier said than done.

I want to try to help him. I dropped an email to an integrative doctor we both use and asked a couple of questions on my dad's behalf. I await his response.

I try to be supportive for my dad, but after a while, I can't take listening to it anymore. And, there are so many elderly people I see who are way worse off. Is that any consolation to him? I suppose not. He just wants to feel half way decent, as he puts it. I want that for him too.

I'm sad that he feels his life isn't a quality one. He's made that statement too.

I actually wound up asking him if he'd prefer not to be living (I know it's an awful question to ask)? He just said he wanted to feel good.

Does anyone who is 90 feel good? I wonder. I'd love to know.

Do you know of anyone that age who feels as they would like to?

Is attitude part of it? Until my dad was 87, he had his share of health challenges over the years, but his age seemingly suddenly caught up with him. And, now he says it's not like him to complain. But, actually it is like him to complain...he just was lucky until 87. Since then he's been nothing but frustrated, and it's what I hear all day/every day whether in person or on the phone.

On one hand, I don't want him to conceal how he feels, in case I can help. On the other hand, maybe sometimes you just have to make the most of life despite it all?! How do people in wheelchairs cope? What about someone with chronic illness? What about someone with dementia?

Do they all hate their lives? Do they just vent incessantly?!

Don't get me wrong. I love and value my dad. I am grateful for him and all that he has done for me and for his on-going support, love, etc. I just miss the way he was. He was my chipper dad.

Do you have a senior parent in your life with health challenges and how do they cope? I'd welcome hearing your experiences.

Thanks for listening to mine.

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Blogger Unknown said...

Oh Robin, huge {{{{hug}}}}I can soooo relate! My mother's new thing is to announce how she is stopping this scheduled test or that, since she doesn't plan on being around that long from now, anyway.
My kids are NOT comfortable with this kind of talk. We had the "We are going to enjoy every minute we can with grandma" talk, but it is not the same as walking the walk, ya know?

I have absolutely no advice, just commiseration.



4:33 PM  
Blogger Robin Gorman Newman said...

Thx for your comment Amelia. It helps at least to know you're now alone. :)

7:52 AM  

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