My sister and I will never forget that day in March when we rushed Mom to the emergency room. The entire time while we were sitting in the ER, we were thinking "this is just a side effect from her new medication". When the ER doctor returned with her test results, we would not be prepared for the news that changed our world forever. "Your mother has Leukemia."
Until that day, our Mom was an active 76 year old super woman - a grandmother of two, working her home based business as a seamstress, gardening, going on casino trips with Dad and playing a very active role in both mine and my sister's life. We never considered her or our Dad as old or even ever getting old. This is not completely true since we knew eventually they would be, but we were not expecting it all to happen on this very day. On this day, our active parents became aging parents and we were not prepared for the journey on which we were about to embark upon.
On that day, we did not realize that we just became Caregiver of our aging parents. Our lives took a quick turn onto the express way of: doctors visits, chemo treatments, insurance company battles, meal makings, picking up medication, and running out for groceries. Meanwhile at home alone during all of this was our elderly dad, their household responsibilities; in addition, to our own lives - homes, children, husbands, full-time jobs, etc.
The journey with our Mom ended very quickly. Her struggle with her rare form of Leukemia only lasted six months when she passed away in August of 2010. We found ourselves again very unprepared to deal with her death. We never talked about it as a family so when this moment arrived we struggled through the process of finding her a resting place, making her funeral arrangements, tackling their finances; as well as, dealing with our grief and an 83 year old Dad who is now living in their home alone.
Although the journey with our Mom eventually came to a close, this was only the beginning of the long haul one as the Caregivers of our 83 year old Dad. Our parents were European immigrants, therefore moving into a nursing home was never an option. We invited Dad to move in with one of us, but he was not willing to leave his home of over 45 years. So now what do we do? How do we care for Dad and live our own lives? How can he be left alone there? How are we going to manage all of this? How can we take on more? So instead of planning for this answer, we decided to see where the road would take us.
We received the answer to our question when Dad suffered a stroke, about a year after Mom passed away, that left him legally blind and unable to return to his home. My sister and I found ourselves even more unprepared for what we were about to face on this part of our journey - making Dad's long-term living and care arrangements, deciding to renovate or to sell his home, which one of us will he move in with; in addition, to taking him to doctor's visits, managing his finances, all the while having lives, husbands, children, full-time jobs of our own.
This journey as Dad's Co-Caregivers lasted nine years for us. The entire time we kept asking ourselves, why do we feel so lost and alone in all of this. Why were we were so unprepared for all of it? Why did it have to be this way? We believe that it does not and we wanted to do something about it. This is when I had the idea to create a website that would incorporate information to help guide people like us who are dealing with issues related to aging parents. Hello! Aging Parents Management!
My sister and I strongly believe that our experiences will help others like us - adult children of aging parents which is the inspiration behind this website - AgingParentsManagement.com. It was designed to incorporate all of this into one spot making it easier for us to have the support when we will need it - a network, a community, tools, services and information. It is meant to be the catalyst for families or future Caregivers to encourage them to engage with their aging parents in order to become more aware and better prepared for this stage in our parents' lives.
Everyone's journey is going to be different. Ours is, too. The journey with our aging Dad ended when he passed away in March 2019. It is ironic that he passed away in the same month that it all started with our Mother back in March 2010. For my sister, her journey is different now, too. Although we consider ourselves as Dad's Co-Caregivers, she maintained the primary responsibilities for his care. She had sacrificed herself for this role and today she is trying to recapture the life she lost in those nine years by re-focusing on her own health that had been ignored for nine years, reconnecting with her husband, spending time her 18 year old daughter who is going off to college this fall and being Mom again for her 16 year old son.
My sister and I had plans to be Aging Parents Management together. However, those plans have changed. Today she is not only making herself the priority, as a former Caregiver but also as a Cancer survivor. Before stepping away from our journey together as Co-Caregivers and business partners in August of 2019, she told me that she believes in what we have created and she gave me her blessing to keep going on my journey without her.
For me, I am committed to making a difference for those of us who are and will be the Caregivers of an aging parent or loved one through AgingParentsManagement.com. There is so many amazing resources available to help support us, we just need to know where to find them. It is my intention to pay it forward by making this journey better for the daughters, sons, nieces, nephews, sons/daughters in-law and grandchildren who are finding themselves in this new role.
Our world has changed so much these days with the Coronavirus that our help, my help is needed more than ever before. Everyday someone is waking up as the NEW Caregiver of an aging parent or loved one and I am going to be here to help you get started and become empowered as you make your journey with your Aging Parent or Loved one.