Over the past few months my brother and I (and our spouses) have been dealing with the issue of getting our mother to move out of her too-big, too-costly house into an apartment in a senior village. At 86, she’s wobbly on her feet and has a tendency to repeat things, but otherwise her mind is sharp. So sharp, in fact, that things got downright nasty at times before she was able to accept our suggestions and agree to the move.
That being said, and after the dust settled, it occurred to me that now would be a good time for my 57 year old self to remind my 86 year old self (if I am lucky enough to live that long) of the do’s and don’ts of dealing with adult children.
First, be nice to your kids, and not just because they’ll pick your nursing home. While I can never imagine myself saying hurtful or hateful things to my kids, I guess it would be easy to fall into that if you felt they were trying to “put you away” while you felt you were well enough to live alone. At this time in my life, I (and to a lesser degree my husband) feel that down-sizing would be great, and we can’t understand the extraordinary hold some of our elders have for a house, almost to the point of obsession. But while we might feel differently if we’re pushed to do so when we’re not ready, we need to remember to keep our words sweet in case we need to eat them. Growing old does not give one license to say whatever they want at the expense of someone else’s feelings.
Second, appreciate what your children, and others, do for you. If someone brings you food, takes you out, or buys you “stuff”, don’t ever, EVER question their motives or sincerity! Graciously thank them and appreciate the fact that someone thought enough of you to do so. And don’t EVER tell people to forget your birthday, that you want no celebrations and not to buy you anything because they just might do what you ask!
Next, go outside; open your doors and windows; take a walk; meet people; see a movie or show; try new things. Now I understand this one has a lot to do with your own mobility and mindfulness. But getting older should not be a free pass to stop doing things. I know in my area alone there are numerous senior centers that are open daily, serve meals, schedule games and events for attendees, and even plan bus trips to different venues. However, at no time should you say “they’re all old people there” and refuse to go. Try to keep in mind that some of these people might be younger than you and both you and they have a lot in common and a lot to share. Instead, take this as an opportunity to keep yourself physically and mentally sharp.
And finally, don’t lament on the past. Whether good or bad it’s just that – past. While we all have a tendency to look at the past through rose-colored glasses and think those were the best of times, but many times they weren’t. And if they weren’t don’t blame your children for your decisions and subsequent mistakes or if your life was difficult or didn’t turn out as you planned. We can only live in the here and now and try to be pragmatic about the past.
As an update to Mom’s situation, while the move hasn’t happened yet (we’re still waiting for an apartment to become available), we remain hopeful that if it does occur it won’t be with the same amount of drama as in the past.
As for me, I will continue to remind myself daily to be glad if my kids pay attention to me now and at whatever advanced age I reach.
Author: alida matusek
Author Bio: Alida is a married, 57 year old mother of two grown children and is soon to be a first-time grandmother! She has a crazy terrier mix, Howie, that hasn’t slowed down in 13 years, and also has two grand-dogs to keep life interesting.