Saturday, February 11, 2012


There's a lot said about having babies, toddlers and children in our lives.  I think that most people anticipate having children when we become married adults (or not married, or whatever- not judging).  Babies keep us up at night, but reward us by smiling and laughing. Toddlers can be even more challenging with their increased need for independence and their 'pesky' new found mobility.  Each stage of a child's life is challenging-both for parents and for the child.  Part of the joy though (for us anyway) has been reliving our own childhoods, making the landscape at least somewhat familiar to us as parents. There's also a myriad of books on the subject of raising children, support groups for Moms and Dads, playgroups to occupy the kids, etc.

It only recently occurred to me that caring for a senior is just another phase of life, and that there may be help in some of the same forms that I used raising my children. I looked, but sadly-in my small community, there are currently no support groups for caregivers.  So, I turned to the internet to look for books on the subject. There are many resources there (duh!), but one book in particular piqued my interest.

I have not yet received the book much less read it. When I have read it, if it contains valuable information, maybe I'll share the title, etc.  I bring it up only because, based on what I learned from just reading the publisher's paragraph-it's likely that I'll be sharing. Just the little bit that I read online introduced me to a new idea that fascinates me: that seniors are a lot like teenagers.

When I applied this concept to my daily dealings with Dad-it was easy to see the parallels. Teens have the ability to make many decisions, and often they choose without weighing the facts, and without regard to their own well being. Often, teens are rebellious and their actions simply reflect their desire to assert their independence. All true with Dad.

I have raised one teen, and am in the process of raising two more. As I see it-there are a few significant differences between teens and seniors. Teens can be punished for behavior that endangers them. Seniors can't (and I'm not suggesting that they should be). Teens are protected by the law from legally signing documents. Seniors are not (until it's often too late, and they have already made expensive, dangerous decisions) . Teens most often don't have credit cards, lines of credit or access to large amounts of money. Seniors often do.  Teens may behave as though they want freedom, but  many experts agree that they need boundaries. Try removing freedoms from or setting boundaries with an elderly parent- I dare you! Still, it's something that often must be done.

Wrap all of this up in the complicated relationships of parents and children, of protecting a senior's dignity while protecting their assets, of offering respect for a senior's experiences and knowledge while attempting to assert your own, and well- good luck. It's a recipe for becoming quickly overwhelmed: two parts frustration, one part anger, a half portion of confusion. Don't forget to stir constantly to avoid boiling over!

It's interesting to contemplate how very many books have been written on how to raise children, or how to communicate with your teenager. Comparatively few exist on how to communicate with seniors-so my hopes are high that what I have found on the subject will offer more valuable insights. I'll let you know if I learn anything further when I've actually read the book.

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