A good friend of ours sent the following story to us. We’re not sure why he sent it, but we’ve decided to pass it along and ask our friends and colleagues to share their own stories.
As we come near to celebrate our 25th Anniversary in business we reflect back on all the wonderful families we’ve worked with and the many friends we’ve made along the way. Whether the story is about your own experience or through your close watchful eyes as a family member or friend. Our hope is to put together a collection of true stories about the pain and emotions that come along with the decisions of what to do with your aging parents and the resulting affect, good or bad, it had on you and your family. We’re hoping that together we can put together a collection of insightful stories filled with information which will help others make the same tough choices you once went through. So please feel free to pass this on see if we can’t help the next generation. Send your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org
When I was s junior in college I got a life changing phone call. Fortunately, for me, it wasn’t my life that would be changed. The call was for my roommate. His father had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I know that many people have parents with Alzheimer’s, what makes this different is my roommate’s history. His mother passed away when he was young, from cancer I believe, and was raised by his father who never remarried. He had drifted apart from his older sister and hadn’t spoken with her for years.
While that was a rough day for him I, personally, didn’t think much about the news after that. It wasn’t until about a year after I graduated that I heard his father was getting pretty bad and he could no longer live by himself. To me the answer was simple. Get him a live in or put him in a home. It was a simple answer for a number of reasons.
1. It wasn’t my father
2. I was young and loved my freedom
3. Nothing in my life, to that point, had come remotely close to the emotional equivalent of that decision.
My roommate, who had the financial means to get care for his father, had decided against it. Instead, he had his father move into his small two-room apartment and was intent on taking care of him by himself. To make a long story short, it did not go well. He was angry 24 hours a day 7 days a week and used his father as an excuse for everything that went wrong in his life.. During that time, he lost jobs, dropped out of college. (he was younger than me) alienated friends and went into a general free fall. Sounds bad, right?
Looking back at all he had suffered through and lost, you could argue he’d made the wrong choice. But years later I might disagree. You see, I don’t think taking his father in was ever in the best interest of his father. In fact, I would argue that his father’s well being wasn’t really what the decision was about in the first place. Here was a college age kid about to lose the last member of his family. He was angry, confused and very self righteous about life, even before this took place. His sister had stopped talking to him, his friends were getting tired of his constant complaining and he refused to accept help for anything.
It was little over a year later that he decided to give in and get his father the help he needed. It had all become too much for him. But, it did give him the one thing he needed most -- peace of mind. You see the decision, to him, was an issue of abandonment. He needed the world to know that he would stand by his father, no matter what. And he gave it all he had, for as long as he could. In the end, he hadn’t given up, he had failed and somehow that was better in his mind.
Fortunately, his father’s home had not been sold. He was able to move back in with 24-hour care. My roommate eased his own burdens by moving in with his father and being there for him when he needed, but was no longer responsible for the daily care he required. It took a while, but he did manage to finish college and slowly but surely started putting his own life back together. Was it the right decision? I don’t know, but it got me thinking.
We all make important decisions in our lives. Some decisions we make are better than others. But the most important thing we can do along the way is gather up as much information as we can, collect as much knowledge as possible and learn from our own, as well as others, experiences.
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