HOW old??

A little late with this today. It’s Mum’s birthday, so a-visiting I did go, and I’ve only just got back home.

My parents are getting old. At the risk of stating the obvious, with every year that passes they’re another year older.

They still travel, they still have a car, they still have opinions. They still have energy and enthusiasm. They still have control over their life. They don’t need help with shopping or cleaning or gardening.

I don’t want to say ‘They’re doing everso well for their age’ – that sounds so patronising, and they don’t need to be patronised.

This was just an ‘ordinary’ birthday, but next year will be a big one – what do 90 year olds generally like to do on their birthdays??

They are doing very well, but the way I act towards them is changing. I’ve had to become more patient with their forgetfulness – it isn’t something that’s going to go away. I’ve had to accept that changes to routine, things that are out of the ordinary, or unexpected, are now harder for them to cope with.

I’ve started to think about the options for ‘later’ – would I have them to live with me? Could they relocate closer to where I am? What do they want? How much help could they get with day-to-day living? Should I move closer to them?

As an only child, it will, eventually, fall to me to get all this sorted. I want to be sure that they are content. I know they would prefer to stay in their own home for as long as they possibly can – but I also know that circumstances might prevent that. Moving them closer to me would make my life easier – but it’s not about me, it’s about what’s best for them.

They’ve lived in their home for very nearly 50 years. They know every inch of it. They know where everything is – not just in the house itself, but they know the shops and the nice walks, and the places to visit. I think moving them out would befuddle them. I can see a time when they need help in the house and in the garden – but I think the overall aim has to be to keep them in that house for as long as possible.

Sometimes you have to accept that the dog is just too old for learning new tricks.

It’s a gradual change – from a child/adult relationship, then adult/adult, then slowly, bit-by-bit, you realise you’re the one doing the looking after. Checking that they’re managing. Everso discreetly. Not wanting them to think that you think that they can’t cope – but equally not wanting to not notice when the time comes that they can’t, in fact, cope.

Happy Birthday Mum.

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8 Comments Add yours

  1. anglosvizzera says:

    Congratulations to your mum – sounds like she and your dad are doing great for their age!

    Both my parents have gone now, as I was the youngest of my sisters by 16 years. One of my sisters lived fairly near so was able to visit them easily but I and my other sister made regular visits too.

    They both lived at home until the end, both with all their marbles, my dad eventually passing at age 90 after developing chest problems, arthritic hips, sight loss and severe hearing loss in the final years. For someone who had been so very active, growing all the veg, doing his own house maintenance, organising social events – sensibly stopping driving before he was a liability – it was hard for him to be physically limited in such a way.

    He was in and out of hospital near the end, which was awful as often the staff didn’t realise he couldn’t see, would put a tray of food in front of him and take it away uneaten, muttering, “Oh you weren’t hungry then?” During the final admission he caught an infection, C difficile, we think, which finished him off.

    As for my mum, she continued living in their house, pottering around, insisting on cooking for us when we all visited, continuing to make the Swiss Christmas biscuits that my dad had used to make and catching the bus into town to go shopping. She was 85 when he died, but continued until 93 when she had a heart attack, went into hospital and died in the night. We felt it was a better way to go as she had had an active life up till then, despite smoking from the age of about 14, but had stayed very healthy.

    Completely different story for my husband though – his dad started to have ‘abscence seizures’ and was diagnosed with a slow-growing brain tumour at about age 80. “Luckily” my husband was made redundant and was able to take his company pension the following year, at age 55, so was able to go and see his parents regularly as they lived a couple of hours’ drive away.

    As his dad started to deteriorate, his mum was diagnosed with dementia (due to statins, we felt, amongst other things). Before they were both ill, we had discussed the possibility of their moving nearer to my sister-in-law to make things easier in the future, but they resisted. Once it became obvious that they weren’t able to cope any more, she arranged for their house to be sold and bought a sheltered flat nearer to her. That was short-lived as most of the residents were healthy and younger and resented ‘being reminded’ of their mortality. As it turned out my father-in-law soon became too ill and was admitted to hospital for his final few weeks at age 82…which took a few months in the end. My mother-in-law couldn’t cope on her own and went to live with my sister-in-law, the latter giving up her job to care full-time. It was very stressful for her and her family, and we tried to help too – but the dementia was getting worse all the time, especially after various drugs that were tried that seemed to create permanent aggression and other adverse changes. She did end up in a home, quite a long way from all of us, and was never herself, finally dying at age 77 – not very old at all.

    So, do cherish your parents while they are fit and well, because things can change very quickly.


  2. You’re absolutely right – and I do!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. gosforthgirl says:

    Hi I feel your predicament and wonder what I would have done in your shoes .

    My parents died in their 50’s so never had the experience of caring for them in their 90’s.

    What comes across from your post is the love and respect you have for your parents. You didn’t say how near you live to them so whether it is difficult to visit.

    It is doubly difficult when all the worry rests on your shoulders.


    Jan Bolton ________________________________


  4. They’re a good 2 hours away – doable in a day, but far enough if I was needing to do it frequently!


  5. Sarah says:

    “what do 90 year olds generally like to do on their birthdays??”

    A friend of mine who is nearly twice my age, celebrated her 90th birthday earlier this year, with a Scottish Country Dance she organised, she out danced most of us 😊

    She has had a few holidays abroad this year.

    She always looks smartly dressed, coordinated, nails painted, with a positive outlook.


    1. They’re amazing, aren’t they!! I told someone today that Mum is ’89 going on 65′!! She always dresses well, really doesn’t look her age (I have more grey hair than she does!!)


  6. Sarah says:

    My parents are in there 70’s and used to live about 2 hours. They recently relocated to about mile away.

    Unlike many at their stage of life they decided not to downsize as they plan to fit a lift (not a stair lift) and to get a live in house keeper as the house gets too much and either supplementing or changing for a carer to meet their changing needs.

    One of the reasons for the move was both me and my sister live very close to each other. Also my Mum’s Mum lived about 2 hours (in the other direction from us), which was fine whilst she was fit and well. Unfortunately she had a fall from which she never fully recovered. My Mum travelled there and back a couple of times a week for about 3 years, followed by months of spending the majority of her time either visiting, commuting to, carering for, arranging appointments for, advocating on behalf of etc after my Grandma broke her leg.
    All of this negatively affected my Mum’s physical and mental health. My parents didn’t want us to have to go through the same.

    Liked by 1 person

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