Watching a parent’s decline

Hello everyone:

One of the hardest things on earth is watching a parent decline in health and/or mental capacity.

You know how it is: little things, such as going to the grocery or serving oneself at a family buffet become impossible. There isn’t enough strength for the former or enough agility for the latter.

A once-buff person becomes pathetically thin and bony. An active mind becomes clouded with fears and an inability to communicate. Hearing loss is common, as is the inability to form sentences.

Life can become centered around the need to use the bathroom. The shower can become a marathon-level challenge for someone who does not see the need to use soap or shampoo.

It can become necessary to supervise the individual constantly, telling and re-telling the same information to the elderly person. The ability to remember information quickly becomes a thing of the past. A once-mentally agile person becomes someone in need of constant reassurance.

It is quite sad. What can you do? Love the person, both as he or she is and as he or she was. Remember the happy times, and trust that you will make it through this day, this hour, this minute. Try to arrange for play dates for YOURSELF! You need a break and need to not feel guilty about it.

This is a part of the cycle of life.  How do you cope with this?

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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