If you're fortunate enough to grow to a ripe old age you'll inevitably be faced with scores of life changing situations. Some are oh so subtle and others slam you squarely across the head. Growing old comes slowly almost interminably slow but when it finally arrives it ascends like a black mist descending from above.
Elderly parents arrive first at this marker set in time and through them we see ourselves in just a few years more. With extended age comes a multitude of situations that need attention and for the most part all require money and a lot of detail.
Unless you are wealthy and money is no object for concern, every family will be faced with life changing decisions concerning elderly loved ones.
My wife and I had a boulder cast our way recently that literally changed our lives. We live many hours by car from our parents and generally see them two times a year although we talk often on the phone. We are a 'close knit' family. We both have siblings who live close to our parents so periodic reports on how mom and dad were doing were the normal All four parents are all now in there eighties and still driving and living at home. They all had their share of medical problems over the years but for the most part all was well, or so we thought.
It began with subtle remarks from family members and more noticeable concerns that are associated with advanced age. Lack of concentration, forgetfulness, and mobility loss to name a few. Serious and minor medical conditions began to present themselves with many surgeries to deal with. Reality painted a clear and unambiguous statement; our parents need help and how and who is willing to provide that help.
Of course every family situation will be different but allow me to share a little about my own life crisis to emphasize the utmost importance of family planning within a family structure. I will be short not to bore you but please remember this could be you.
It happened suddenly with a Friday night phone call from my sister in law; dad is in the hospital and needs surgery, he was found lying on the floor and reportedly had been there for days. Mom didn't have the where with all to call 911 or go to a neighbor for help. Social services are now involved and they say 'Nan' needs full time attention and can no longer live by herself. The refrigerator was nearly bare and little food was found in their apartment. The situation demanded immediate resolution and decisions had to be made on the fly. The time for quiet relaxed get together among family to discuss elderly parents had escaped us and now we were faced with immediate action.
None (zero) of my wife's family living in the general area of my in-laws were willing or able to help in any substantial means. The thrust of the situation suddenly and dramatically became ours to deal with. We are not wealthy although we have a beautiful home with a lot of land and both works in a self-employed business. Taking my in-laws into our home would be life changing to say the least, my wife and I had to make this decision quickly and within hours a call was made to my sister-in-law informing her that they could live with us. What followed in the next 48 hours was harrowing and stomach wrenching not to mention nerves wrecking. Our lives were changed in ways I could not begin to describe. Family members seemed unsympathetic and were just glad to see the 'Problem' go away. My wife and I began our new life together.
We are often asked why we didn't place them in a nursing home? The time will come when my wife and I will have to make that hard decision but until that day comes the 'Right Thing to Do' is to care for parents in a loving caring environment with all the hard ship and baggage that comes with it. My in-laws have no assets and live on social security with a myriad of outstanding medical bills. We take one day at a time and trust in God to provide our needs. Fifteen months have past and life goes on with both 'Nan' and 'Pop' deteriorating slowly but still able to do limited functions.
This type of scenario is duplicated everyday across the world with family members faced with hard life changing decisions. The point of this article is to exclaim the importance of family planning for aging loved ones. Please don't put it away as a 'Well someday we'll get together' moment. As subtle as aging is it is also a stark reality and if your fortunate enough to stay healthy and out of a life taking moment in time. Don't procrastinate make that first phone call to a sibling or cousin and get the 'Ball rolling'. Plan a family get together and have a picnic, enjoy the day in the sun and then sit down all together as a loving family and candidly discuss the plan of action that will be implemented near the end of your parents life. When the day comes to implement the plan there will be no crisis, no indecision on what action to take, no arguing, only loving caring family taking care of family.
Life begins with a cry and gasp for air. Death ends with a whisper and stillness.
Gary Kenneth Archer is a web designer, webmaster, professional woodworker and naturalist
who is a frequent contributor to: Natural Health Products and
All Natural Supplements Blog.com
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