Happy times in Arizona ..Four Parents, our Two Kids and Me
Joan Craven is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
TIME: 5 PM Monday March 15, 2021
Topic: First Reading of The Call ……a Memoir about my caregiving experience
Meeting ID: 317 279 5761
Just to give you a little background this is a draft of the introduction…….
I didn’t write for six years. My parents and my husband’s parents would be shocked and then heartbroken to think they caused my caregiver exhaustion.
For thirty-seven years I was a first-line family caregiver. Bob’s parents left this world in 2009 and 2011; my dad passed away in 2015; and when mom passed away in 2017, I was physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted. Many days I became disheartened. Despite my best efforts, nothing I could do would ‘make it better.’
My supportive husband and brother lightened the load. We were not supplementing our parents’ income, as is the case with many family caregivers.
I had watched my own parents make decisions for their parents as my much-loved grandparent’s aged. It wasn’t a smooth process. For this reason they gave my brother and I clear direction as to what they wanted as they aged. We were given permission to have honest discussions with them if we noted things they did not.
My in-laws were the opposite. They told us the only way they would leave their home was in a hearse. They did not want outside help and they did not talk about the ‘what if’s’ as they aged.
As I reflect on my story, these questions came to mind:
- What can I do to make it easier for my caregivers when the time comes ?
- Could I have done things differently during my caregiving years?
- What changes need to happen NOW provincially and federally with regard to care of seniors?
There is no other stage in life that requires so much preparation. For too long aging was something that simply happened. Many people thought it was out of their control. It is not.
Have you thought about these questions?
- Do you want to live as long as the medical establishment can keep you breathing?
- Do you value quality of days living healthy or quantity of days spent staying alive?
- Do you want to stay in your own home? Have you considered the costs? What supports would need to be in place?
- If you are deemed incapable of making decisions have you designated your caregiving team?
An article in the New York Times said “It takes a village to shepherd people through their golden years.” (Amy Blakestone, June 7, 2019) As you assemble your team and make your wishes known only then can you be confident that those wishes will be followed. Will there be glitches? Of course.
As uncomfortable it is, it’s time to think and then talk about the last chapter of our lives. Do you want to be in charge or do you want others trying to guess what they think you would want? It’s important to start your conversation today.
If you don’t think you need to do it now, look in the mirror, especially just after you crawl out of bed! That’s an honest reality check. Remember that heroes act, despite their fear. Be a hero. Begin to prepare today.
I hope you will join me tomorrow, Monday March 15 at 5 pm. Bring a paper and pen as I will be asking for your reflections as you listen to one of my stories.