I am seeing more references in discussions, books, articles, even companies, to “parenting your parents”. A quick Google search of the phrase told me there are about 7,680,00 results out on the Web. It is becoming more prevalent as a concept and even as an organizing principle for caregivers.
I have to say that I really dislike that phrase. I know it is well intentioned, but it is, frankly, degrading of our parents and of our relationship to them. I have probably even used the phrase, myself, but I hope not. If I have, I owe an apology to my own late parents.
Our parents are, were and will always be our parents. Both of mine died last year, but that does not change the relationship. Both of them needed home care, in the last couple of years in Oregon, one state north of where I live. Some of that was provided by two amazing sisters and some of it we paid for, but I know my sisters always knew who were the parents and who were the daughters.
One great posting I found on the Web on this topic is by Carol Bradley Bursack, Editor-in-Chief of ElderCarelink.com. You can follow her on Twitter at @eldercarelink1, by the way. Carol says something pretty important, in my view: “I believe strongly in the value of a person’s legacy. No matter how cruel the losses of aging, the person’s past life is not rendered null and void.”
I absolutely agree. The lives of our elders, our parents, other peoples’ parents, are not washed away and forgotten by the fact that they may now need help with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), regardless of the cause.
At Support For Home, we provide home care to many seniors with dementia, for example. I can remember a former surgeon and professor of medicine who had developed Alzheimer’s. His incredible career was not diminished by his illness. His daughters remained proud of what and who he was. We were proud to be part of the caregiving team for him.
So, let our parents remain our parents. The needs that develop as they age should not diminish our respect for or memory of what they did for us and others over the years.
Best wishes, Bert