Sunday, April 24, 2011

On An Aging Parent

Melissa and I were talking out loud today about one of the concerns that has begun to be on my mind of late; specifically what to do about aging parents when their desires and abilities....and I mean ALL their abilities, are no longer in sync with one another. I've always maintained that farms were a great place to grow old, and that can be true when sons and grandsons step in and manage the business successfully. Retirement often means doing less work and doing more things that you want to do but it doesn't mean stopping and I think that's great. That was exactly the sort of set-up I envisioned and put in place for my mom shortly after my dad's passing. But when something changes in that picture; when divorce or the economy turns a viable business upside down and aging parents are left in the family homeplace alone with no sons or daughters nearby I can attest from experience that retirement can become a lot less fun in a real big hurry.

Of course mom is welcome here with me or, I'm sure, with my brother, but after having spent seven decades within eyesight of where she was born I'm pretty sure she has no desire to relocate and I don't blame her for that. When I lived next door she'd most likely never have had to think about it, and she's far from alone up there even now. But she lives in a big old drafty farmhouse that takes a lot of dollars and effort just to keep in some semblance of repair and since my uncle's passing her being there worries me, doubly so when a storm blows up and shuts the roads down in the winter.

Fortunately, none of our discussion today is of pressing concern; mom is still well capable of looking out for herself in spite of my worries. But longevity runs in her family and her health is very good. She could easily have another twenty or more good, productive years ahead of her and these sorts of decisions are of the type that ought to be figured out before necessity demands it. One day soon we're going to have to get together...all of us...and have a conversation about what needs to happen so we can begin to get plans in place before they are needed.

Getting older, whether as parent or child, sometimes isn't very much fun.

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