Having graduated from Julliard and having had some success in New York, I came to California last year to expand on my acting career. I’ve booked a few TV and commercial jobs, as well as theatre. I’m able to support myself and supplement my acting by taking on multiple odd jobs. Even though I’m not yet at the pinnacle of financial and creative success, I love my life here and the people around me.
I recently came back from visiting my mom and dad in Indiana. My mom is recuperating from a stroke, and my dad is in the first stages of Alzheimer’s. He’s trying to care of her, but he’s not going to be able to care for her and himself for much longer. They have only me. If I go back to Indiana to help them, I will be giving up on my life’s dreams and opportunities here.
My parents, who I love so very much, tell me to stay here and stick it out. But the guilt is driving me crazy. What do I do? Should I go or should I stay? How do I make this decision?
Thank you for sharing. Because adult children becoming responsible for their parents is nothing new, you’d think that we’d (society) be better equipped to manage when the situation arises with classes on “What to do with your parents when they can’t manage on their own." I suppose that’s not a class needed for those with unlimited financial resources, they can throw money at it. So, the thing to do is win big in the lottery. There, done.
Look, I’d like to provide you with a wise, tried and true, foolproof answer. The truth is every situation is different. (Dahhh!) I empathize with your situation and share with you information I have gathered, but really that’s about it. Ultimately it falls to you.
One of the first thing that can be done is to be logical. Assess the health and resource needs of your parents. Take time to organize their estate and understand their wishes for their future. Together discuss and prepare for next steps. You may discover that their needs are outside of your ability to manage. If you can manage their needs today, there is no promise that their respective illnesses will not escalate requiring more than you are equipped to manage.
Everyone can benefit by identifying additional resources and services.
Assisted Living is something to consider. Assisted Living facilities, much like the name implies, provide multiple levels of services, care and lifestyle that maintains dignity, respect and independence. Many facilities include transportation, housekeeping, laundry, medication assistance, and assistance with daily living like bathing and dressing. They range from posh resort lifestyle to simple living. Your parents would live in their own apartment sharing meals and scheduled activities with other residents.
Memory Care frequently can be found in Assisted Living facilities. Memory Care caters to Alzheimer’s/Dementia clients. The same amenities apply as does for the Assisted Living facility along with specially trained staff who can manage the unique challenges of memory changes.
When considering these options visit multiple locations. In addition to talking to the administration, take time to meet residents and find out what they think of the facility. When possible talk to their family as well. Consider a respite which is a short stay. Respite care can be used as an introduction to assisted living.
Nursing homes are an option for those with a higher level of need and or complex medical conditions. These facilities offer 24-hour care from licensed nurses.
In-Home Care is ideal for manageable health care issues. Your parents stay in their home and hire in-home personal care services come in to assist with bathing, dressing, preparing meals and provide companionship. (These services and staff should be carefully screened and come with impeccable references.) That said if the needs escalate a backup option should be available.
Another option is having your parents live with you. You would become the primary caregiver. This good intentioned option is one of the most emotional, and physically demanding choice.
Being confronted with illness and aging is challenging for all of you. Parents are experiencing physical and mental loss along with uncertainty for their future. Adult children suffer from feelings of guilt and anxiety about having to decide the mortality of your parents, and face antiquated notions of “putting parents out to pasture,” and duty,
Life has handed you an opportunity to provide your parents the experience of witnessing you, their loving child, be the respectful, and strong, leader of the family. You, who has their best interest at the forefront of all decisions, and who they trust. You will demonstrate that they can rely on you to do what’s best for the family.
You will benefit by leading from love, and not by fear.
Your decision will be the right one.