Sunday, August 8, 2010

Parents' Transition

Well, it’s time.  My parents are going to make a move to an assisted living place very soon.  A couple of years ago, it would have been harder for me to watch than now.  It will still be hard, but in the last couple of years, they have been staying around the house with just a few outings each week, and the lack of stimulation is something that hasn’t been good for them.  The assisted living will have more.

I think about when I was 16 or 20 years old, what it would be like to see my parents in their 80’s, and I imagined them older of course, more frail, and less able to do things.  But what I didn’t imagine, couldn’t have imagined for lack of any real experience with older adults given that my grandparents had died off before I was born or when I was very small, was the quick onset of varying forms of dementia, the inability to express their thoughts clearly, and especially and most surprisingly to me, a general lack of motivation to do much.

These were parents who literally traveled to almost every continent (they only missed Antarctica and Australia), and it would seem, could not satiate their hunger for travel, excitement, and new experiences.  In whatever way that their senior years would turn out, it’s wonderful that they had these earlier experiences.  I think they are satisfied.  But for me, seeing them sitting around, just trying to communicate with each other in a large house, has been hard to witness, and has not been the best use of their life of recent.

And so, a new chapter.  Moving to a place where they will have more to choose from each day, and be able to be watched and cared for.  What to do with their dog, what to pack for them, keep, and what to let go of.  Indeed it is time, and it is a transition for me as well.