So, there we were – a group of friends joyfully gathered to celebrate birthdays across a leisurely summer’s afternoon and evening. It was a picture-perfect day. The balmy air was glorious on the skin. A welcome old-tree canopy offered cooling breezes in contrast to the sun’s brilliance.
Everyone was laughing and carrying on until one of us received…The Parental Call…
Daughter was phoning to say Grandma was acting up again. “Someone” needed to handle her – namely, our beleaguered Sandwich Generation member. Apparently, granddaughter wasn’t going to. Already during the call, she was gathering her belongings. Without a moment’s hesitation, she promised to head straight home. There seemed to be “no” other options. So much for her desperately-needed few hours of fun to relieve the relentless caregiving…
Notice she didn’t even stop to think for a minute or ask some further questions. While I don’t know this family’s whole situation by any stretch, I do know there was no mention of possibly getting others to help (like a neighbour or pre-arranged in-home services while our friend took some precious hours off). Nope! The invisible Super Woman cape was donned and off she flew! Mom swooping in (probably for the millionth time – OK, I exaggerate) to save the day.
You’ve heard that we teach others how to treat us. Clearly, Mom has “trained” her lineage well. The generations just have to yell “jump” and her immediate answer is “how high”. Though I’ve cited this statistic countless times, it feels like a repetition is in order. Those charged with eldercare have a 63 percent higher death rate than their peers who don’t carry such burdensome responsibilities. Are you hearing this stunning number?
Can We Please Press the “Pause” Button?
Now, lest you think it’s easy for me to do this backyard “armchair analysis”, that’s only because hindsight is 20-20. Be assured I’ve been there and done this one. At the height of my despair when Dad was 89 and I was 54, I often wondered who would (frankly) pass away first.
My default (defined as our automatic choices and assumptions) may have been different. Mine was the personality friends know as Warrior Woman. Throughout that horrid marathon, I was like this crazed daughter constantly braced for the next paternal crisis or battle with service providers I had to deal with – 24 hours a day and seven days a week.
In the end, without proper support, the friend’s and my negative outcomes were at equally high risk. Can you spell intense exhaustion and unending frustration that will inevitably lead to long-term disease at “best” and passing away before your elders at worst?
Please take heed of my warnings. Before you manifest serious illness and more, do not delay in reaching out for coaching on the skills and tools you need to survive this grueling chapter of life. I’m here and ready to serve at (905) 822-2503 or www.copingwithuncopeableparents.com.