When you are a kid, you think being an adult is cool. You can do whatever you want right? Life is easy! No one to tell you what to do. You don’t have to go to school. You can eat what you want. You can sleep in late. Being an adult is fun and easy.
Then you become an adult and you realize it’s not all that and a bag of chips. (Is that still a saying?). You’ve got responsibilities as an adult and life can be hard. You’ve got to take care of yourself. You’ve got bills to pay. You’ve got a boss to report to. It’s not easy.
But it gets easier when you find a partner, right? A husband or a wife that you can rely on who will help you take care of things. It’s true that a spouse can make things a little bit easier, but being an adult is still rife with responsibilities that can be scary. With or without a partner, we all need support. We REQUIRE support.
When it comes to children, we all know the saying: “It takes a village.” No matter what age the child, there is no “easy” stage. Sure it’s scary when you’re handling an infant, but it’s also terrifying when you’ve got a teen. Each age, each stage comes with its challenges. Each one is frightening in its own way. Which is why we need support; it doesn’t matter if it comes from a spouse, a relative, a neighbor … whatever. We all need help; we all need to help.
As we grow older, we learn and we manage the challenges that life throws at us. We pretty much expect them. However, there is one that we might bury our heads in the sand about. And that is taking care of those who once took care of us, eldercare.
This is something I have been struggling with for a while. My parents are very independent people. They are very opinionated people. They have lived together on their own, for over 50 years. But things are changing, and we’ve all been burying our heads in the sand a bit.
Now we have come to the point where I need to help them. I’ve tried to be helpful all my life. (They might disagree on that.) Now they really need my help and it’s past the point of my expertise, so I’m being the responsible adult and trying to get help … for them and for me!
Care for aging parents doesn’t look the same for everyone. Just like care for a child doesn’t look the same. There is no one size fits all. Just like we need help when it comes to caring for a child, we need help when it comes to aging parents.
Both of my parents have mobility issues, so being in a house with one level is a no brainer. This is where they have lived for years, pretty much on their own. As getting around has become more difficult, we’ve gotten a service to do some grocery shopping and they have two wonderful women who come in and clean (in reality do a LOT more than that on a regular basis.
However independent my parents are, they are dependent on each other. Just as I am dependent on my husband for some things and he on me for others. We are all independent and yet dependent.
Which is why when my mother was hospitalized earlier this week, I depended on my husband to take over at our home while I came down to look after my dad. Since he really doesn’t need much care (just assistance with getting meals and a few other things), I am able to work remotely. I can attend business meetings (thanks Google Meet) and get him lunch. I can run reports and do laundry. Meanwhile at home my husband can (and does) do the same. It’s not perfect, but it works.
What is scary is that I have to go home later today and cannot return until midday tomorrow. That’s a long time to leave someone alone. I have called the service that handles their grocery shopping to schedule some evening time … I’m just waiting to hear back. Meanwhile, I’m prepping to make everything easier on him while I am not here. (Not easy, just easier). One of the women who does their cleaning is going to check in on him later in the day. (Again, is really just part of what she does … I could sing the praises of C and her assistant A from dawn to dusk. They don’t just clean houses, they clean hearts and minds. They are lifesavers in my book and deserve their very own blog post, but that will have to wait until another day.) So as scary as this is, I have some peace of mind thanks to this support system.
No matter where you are in your adult life; caring for a child, caring for a partner, caring for a parent (or parents), we need to care for ourselves and to get support. We may be independent, but we also need to realize that we are also dependent. Help is out there in many forms, don’t be hesitant to look for it and more importantly, GET it.
Beth Shorten is a life-long resident of Verona. For more than seven years, she has been chronicling life here on her personal site, Bfth’s Boring Blog. This piece was originally published as “Being An Adult Can Be Scary“.