You and I, we’re not so different. I live in Vancouver with my husband and brother. I am a real estate agent. I have no kids. I don’t know where you live, or with whom, or what you do for a living- but we have this in common: parents. Furthermore, we may have this in common: aging parents.
We are all going to face the emotional and financial and physical and relational challenges of aging parents one day. Maybe, like you, I’m facing that now.
I don’t know where you are in the process but I’m at that point where my Dad, is still living on his own- quite healthy and mobile, but it is becoming apparent that he would really benefit from living with others now. His vulnerabilities are becoming more obvious and the loneliness of being on his own is getting harder for him to bear. My husband and I agree that we are all about to embark on some changes as a result.
I want to share some of my insight and experience with you; hopefully it helps you.
Talk with your spouse. Whatever decisions you make have to be made together. If you are a spouse of the child of the aging loved one, be compassionate; don’t oppose unnecessarily. Remember that parents give their all to raise us- it is our turn now. Honour them. Make life a comfortable joy for them. They deserve this and one day you want your own kids and their spouses to treat you the same way too.
In Vancouver, we have a legitimate housing affordability crisis, so we really struggle with square footage. Do you have a second living room, den, office or recreation room that could be re-purposed for your loved, aging parent? How about a sofa bed in the living room and some storage solutions from Ikea? This may be what I resort to initially.
Noticing the signs of change early and acting on them can help prevent bigger problems. For example, noticing the increase in difficulty doing things on their own, early, and helping them, can possibly prevent a bad fall and a subsequent operation. See what I mean? Noticing their loneliness and spending more time with them as a result can prevent future depression.
Talk with your aging parent(s). They are still grown adults and their views should be respected. Make decisions together. Include other relevant family members where necessary. No matter what, stay focused on the fact that your parent is a part of the family, and his or her happiness and health should be treated as paramount.
I don’t have all the answers; as I mentioned we are at the front of this, but change is coming and I want to know that I really did the best for my Dad. I know it is going to be hard, but this stage, like absolutely everything in life, will pass and what remains will have a vacancy in it.
Anastasia Anthony Zervos is a real estate agent at One Percent Realty, who lives and works in Vancouver, British Columbia, with her husband. She has studied Journalism and Mass Communication as well as Theology. Anastasia is a dual citizen of Canada and her native country, The Commonwealth of the Bahamas, in the Caribbean.