Life With Elderly Parents.

I was listening to some podcasts recently about the perimenopause and menopause. It was so interesting and relatable but one woman`s comment really hit the nail on the head. She referred to the menopausal years as the “Frantic Forties and Fifties”, where life just goes insane on so many levels whilst we face the onslaught of hormones going bonkers all at once causing a myriad of symptoms!

What she was referring to is a time in our lives when some of us really don`t feel that great (some do I know, and sail through to the final menopause stage) and are wanting time to deal with and process all these new, sometimes scary symptoms yet we may have so much else going on that we can`t or maternally put others first. It may be teens or marriage problems but one that really resonated with me, especially in the last month with my own experiences and listening to friends of a similar age, is that of the worry of elderly parents. It really is a double whammy.

And here`s why it resonated…..

My parents live in the UK and I, as you know, am here in Australia. When we emigrated back in 2004, they seemed so young in their mid-sixties. We didn`t even give the future a thought. Them coming to visit every year was always going to happen, and it did, every Christmas for fourteen years. Last Christmas was the last however as the journey has just got too hard and they are now 80 and my Dad has a multitude of health issues. This has brought a huge amount of feelings to the surface. I find myself thinking about them constantly. What will happen to them? Will they get a terminal illness? Will it be sudden? When will it happen? Who will be there? Well certainly not me!

Guilt is beginning to set in. Were we selfish to emigrate? My brother is dealing with everything and has even moved back to the village they live in. Hospital appointments, operation after care, the frustration it brings my parents and dropping in on them every day to check they are ok. I do know if I were to up sticks and go home for these final years, it would probably really upset them. It has crossed my mind but then I don`t want them to be upset or feel a burden. Which of course they are not. But it doesn`t stop the guilt I have and the toll it is taking on my brother. I sometimes hear it in his voice. I talk about it openly to him and he says not to think like that, but I do. I wonder if others feel the same and ask themselves if they made the right choice back in the days when life was simple and their parents were healthy as they boarded that plane to a new life. I think they probably do.

Two friends called me this month with news on their elderly parents. One call left me in a panic that I to could face a similar call to the one she received and the other left me feeling that guilt again. Both friends were in their own kind of grief.

The first call was from a friend who did the opposite to me and emigrated from Australia to the UK. It was a Saturday morning and she received a call to say that her Mum had suddenly passed away. Completely out of the blue, no warning signs. By the Monday she was here with her family to farewell her Mum. I dread this call. I may not receive it, an illness may take me home prior, but I could and maybe twice. This really bought it home to me. My passport and that of my daughters is always up to date. It`s not as if we can get in the car and drive to where we need to be. It`s a 24-hour flight !! Why did we go so far again? Selfishly it was so good to see my friend but so bitter sweet.

The second was from my crazy, gorgeous friend here who I can say absolutely anything to and she me. We laugh, we cry, we listen, we tell each other to shut up (or worse !) , we share hot flush stories and she calls me her “comfortable pair of old slippers” I love that. We are both from the UK but live here. She was full of anger, frustration and sadness that day. A year ago, she was loving life to the max, kids had left home, and they had bought a smaller house near the city. Think cafes, bars, restaurants, theatre. She had dreamed of this time. But then her Mum began to deteriorate and was eventually taken into a home and her dad is lost without her. She goes from work, to the home, makes sure her Dad has company, food, shopping etc. “I feel like I`ve got two toddlers” she wailed. It had been a bad week. I listened, I soothed but I knew she was feeling what many do, including my own brother. Yet I am too far away to share the appointments, the checking and the sadness of watching them age. I am a once a week Skype chat now, no more visits from them, no idea when I shall next get home to the UK and the elephant is always in the (Skype) room of when we shall see each other again. Because we dont know.

So, I am left pondering what to do. Perhaps there is nothing I can do but keep up the contact as much as possible from the other side of the world…..it`s a difficult one ☹

Promise to be cheerier next time

PP xx

31 thoughts on “Life With Elderly Parents.

  1. Cozynookbks says:

    I’m sorry Helen. This is a tough subject because answers don’t come readily to mind. I feel your pain, and guilt. We live in North Carolina, and my mom lives in New York with my sister. My mom’s just turned 70 in April, but she has a health ailment that I worry about. Right now she seems just fine, but she’s had this health problem for six or seven years and I hear that it takes its toll after a while. I worry about her, but she’s okay where she is. For now. She might have to live with us one day, but until that time comes I check on her and try to take one day at a time. Worrying myself about her and being plagued by guilt won’t change the current arrangement, so I try not to dwell on it. I wish I could see her more but she knows we do the best we can when we can. I’m sure your parents and your brother know you’re doing the best you can under the circumstances too.

    Life is hard. We can’t foresee the future and sometimes things don’t work out as planned, like in your dear friend’s case, but we are all just human beings trying to navigate this crazy world and all that’s involved in living in it.

    I pray that you will find peace with the decisions you’ve made, and that things will work themselves out in the long run. 😘😘

    Liked by 1 person

  2. howikilledbetty says:

    Hmmm … yes that’s a really tricky one. None of us can tell you what to do and we wouldn’t anyway. But we can tell you what happened in our situation … So, for what it’s worth … My parents had recently divorced when my dad died suddenly in 2001. I was in a mess, surrounded by a foul husband who later ran off anyway, and two tiny babies. My father had been enormously stressed over some stuff and I was so wrapped up in my own life aged 32 ish (can’t do the maths) that I failed to help. The guilt is still there. My mother died 3 years ago. She lived 2 hours (on a good day … 4 on a bad) away. She had cancer and the last four months were God awful … I had two teenage boys taking GCSE’s and trying to get to her was hard. My sister was even further away and it was a case of waiting for the next call usually from the paramedics. We had looked into nursing homes, but they were awful and she wanted to go into the hospice at the end anyway. What we should have done is got her to live with one of us and with the help of carers looked after her ourselves. But of course she said she didn’t want that anyway as she did t want to be a burden, so we were in a catch 22. Perhaps we should have moved to be closer to her, I just don’t know … I had the boys doing GCSE’s. She died with my sister and I beside her in the hospice that she wanted. I am left with enormous guilt again for not having done more on a consistent basis, after all, she put her life into bringing us up, perhaps the least I should have done is to have looked after her at the end of her life. I don’t know the answer, but that was what happened to us, if it’s of any use to you at all! Sorry for such a maudlin and horribly long response!! Good luck in making your decision …. Honestly, it’s hard, but best wishes. Katie x

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Perimenopause Ponderings says:

    Thank you Laurie. You always manage to relate to my posts , share your story and give some advice. Worrying and guilt tripping myself isn’t going to change the cicumstances we have found ourselves in. Currently they are on a two week holiday in Greece with my brother and his partner…so I am definitely guilt free 😊😊. The Villa and pool look amazing. It is a crazy world isn’t it? I try not to think about it too much as it makes my brain hurt 😉 . Hope you have a wonderful weekend and thank you for your lovely kind words.😘

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Perimenopause Ponderings says:

    Hi Katie ! Thanks for following me. Feeling chuffed with every one of my followers that takes the time to read. It’s quite a little community this WP world😊. Like Lauries post above (or is it below!!??) I appreciate you being so open about your own experience. On both occasions, and I am so sorry, because both sound heartbreaking but it seemed life for you was hectic/turbulent and you did what you could. Seems your Mum was similar to my parents with you and your sister and didn’t want to be a burden. And we have to respect that. You did what she wanted. You kept her out of tge care homes. Heard some terrible stories and even my poor Nana was neglected in one 😕. I tried to spin this on its head after reading your reply. What if they were parents who asked me to go home or encouraged the idea? Would I take us all home. Secure life here etc and for how long. On a funnier note this reminds me of my other Nana. She took in her own mother back in 1950 when she was 40 and her mother was 70. She had broken her hip so they thought it wouldn’t be long as she also smoked likeba chimney and drank half a bottle of whisky a day. She lived til she was 92 😱😂 . You never know do you when it will happen. Thanks for reading. Helen xx

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Cozynookbks says:

    You’re welcome Helen. 😊 There are so many dilemmas to face in this life. I didn’t even mention my dad who was ill and depressed and took his life in 2005. 😔 My parents were separated when I was about 5 years old. My dad became ill in his early 60’s. (He’d also suffered from a rare illness beginning in his late 40’s or early 50’s called achalasia that went undiagnosed for over 10 years.) He wasn’t able to work anymore because he was a truck driver and he was having seizures. He’d also had a stroke that affected his leg, and he had other stuff too. He grew very depressed. He lived about 8 hours away and he refused to come live with us, even though we had more than enough room for him. He, too, kept saying he didn’t want to burden anyone. It broke my heart. I was working at the time and I would break down at work sometimes thinking about him. When doctors determined he was suicidal and wouldn’t permit him to live alone, my sister went with her friend to go get him. We’d talked about it and since she was in a better position at the time to travel to get him she went. He decided to take his life before they got there rather than to go live with anyone. It was a devastating time for us. Talk about guilt. But that was my dad. He was stubborn and prideful and he’d rather die than be looked after.
    I didn’t share my story to sadden you, but I wanted you to know that many in our age group share your feelings of uncertainty and guilt when it comes to our aging, sick parents. I don’t dwell on what happened to my dad because I don’t think we could have prevented his taking his life, and I become so sad when I think about the whole thing. I’m in tears right now because I miss him so much. He was depressed and authorities didn’t want him living alone. We had to go get him or they would have had him committed or something. It was all terrible and I’ve never shared this story with anyone. But I know that agonizing over it now won’t bring him back. My dad suffered with many sicknesses and I hated seeing him sick and feeling miserable. Life is so hard. I’m just trying to get through it with my faith still in tact because that’s all I have to cling to.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. traceyatwaterintowine says:

    It’s a hard one Helen and guilt and the what ifs and if onlys always rear their head. But I think of this – you would know as a parent seeing your children live their lives, be happy, chase their dreams is what makes your dreams come true. It’s the same for your parents weather they verbalise it or not – seeing you live your life and be happy even if it’s taken you a long way from home is part of their joy and a sign they have done well. And 14 years of summers in Australia – wow- what a gift – so much more than many would do or spend with their parents. The worry and sorrow in the later years as the years take their toll doesn’t take away from all the good years nor does it redefine them. What was good is still good. Yes it’s a hard one – we just love big (and love carries across Skype) and want to do all we can, both what’s right for them and us. Thanks for your post and for your honesty as always and for not trying to tie a bow on it. Xx

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Perimenopause Ponderings says:

    Hi Laurie. I didn`t reply to this comment over the weekend because I needed to take some time and not be interrupted by calls of “Helen!” or “Mum!”. I am so honored that you feel you can share this story with me, I truly am. It really does put into perspective that time can be futile feeling guilty over things and people with their own sets of values and wishes on how they deal with the circumstances life throws there way. And your father proved this in the most heartbreaking way. He knew that what he wanted was being taken away from him by the authorities and yet still he didn`t want to burden his family. He was going to have his final wish and that meant the only way was by taking his life. It is a truly heartbreaking story and it has made me feel so emotional at what it must have been like. My only comfort for you is that he is looking down on you all smiling because he knows his pain and suffering has ended and you don`t have to see him suffer any more than he was. I have a friend whose mother was sectioned due to mental health and it was just awful. No going back once that happens. Sending so much love to you Laurie. It really has put a few things into perspective for me. At the end of the day, our parents may be old, unwell or losing their memory but they still have their own wishes and mines I know would be for me to stay right here. Lots of Love to you. Helen xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Perimenopause Ponderings says:

    Thank you Tracey my dear friend so much for this comment both about my blogging style and for making me see my dilemma from a totally different angle. And of course for enticing me into this wonderful world of blogging. I hadn`t thought of it like this before and you are right. We never know what are children are going to do with their lives but we hope it is what they dream of and yes I guess I can say I have done that and most of it because of the childhood and travel experiences they gave me. It gave me the bug to see the world even more. Can you imagine if Milly or Livvy eventually lived overseas and we got to visit new places. It would be a gift that we never expected and a wonderful opportunity. Thank you Tracey for giving a different spin on it. And when I think about it they do refer to the Granny Flat as their “Place in the Sun”. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Cozynookbks says:

    Thank you Helen. 💕 Sorry it took so long for me to respond. I had a lot going on the last few days including a daily headache, which I have even now, that won’t quit!!
    My dad was very masculine and proud in the sense that he couldn’t take feeling like he’d be a burden to anyone. I’m sorry that he chose to take his life. Perhaps he could have found relief from new medical techniques had he tried to go on, but it makes no difference now. I try to remember his incredible sense of humor and the way he supported me so thoroughly. I miss him dearly.
    I’m a regular bible reader for decades now, and I know my dad is no longer suffering. But he’s not alive anywhere else either, according to the scriptures that say “the dead are conscious of nothing at all.” Eccl 9:5. Rather, he’s asleep in the grave, and if God sees fit to bring him back in a resurrection like Jesus taught, after the end of the days, I would so look forward to seeing him again (granted that God sees fit to bring me back too. 🙏🏽)
    Not wanting to get preachy since I don’t do that by means of social media so I hope I didn’t offend you by including the scripture. 😔
    Thank you again for your kind, thoughtful words. I truly felt the care behind them. 💜

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Perimenopause Ponderings says:

    Oh Laurie, you could never offend me. Faith is an individual thing and I have seen it help so many people in difficult times ❤❤. And you have found comfort from yours. Love to you this weekend my soul mate across the pond. Helen xx

    Liked by 1 person

  11. throughrosetintedglasses54 says:

    It is such a difficult phase. My mum died two years ago and my 3 brothers all lived abroad. I think they. probably felt very much as you do. Its a tough stage of life whatever the circumstances but I would say keeping in touch as often as possible with your brother and parents is the best way forward.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Perimenopause Ponderings says:

    Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment. I am sorry to hear that you have lost your Mum. To hear from your perspective that you think your brothers felt the same tells me I am not alone. It is a time that creeps up very slowly. I also think writing a post about it has helped plus I know that they are all happy campers at the moment. Just back from , Greece, the weather is fabulous , Wimbledon is on and World Cup Fever is gripping the nation 😊😊

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Rachel McAlpine says:

    These painful situations have given me much to think about, as an elderly parent. I understand there are many ways to be a burden, and one is to insist on living alone past the danger point. You have all reminded me how vital it is to have clear and full and ongoing conversations with my children, not just about what I want but also about what they truly deeply feel.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Perimenopause Ponderings says:

    Oh what a wonderful comment from you Rachel and from the perspective of a parent. Thank you so much. I think I would love to have this open relationship and conversation with my parents. I am not entirely sure they would be open to it but they might or might even want it but think I don’t. I think they will be horrified to think I might move home but that might just be the opener to a longer conversation down the track. Thank you again for this …great food for thought 😊😊

    Liked by 1 person

  15. gigidilegno says:

    Hello Peri.

    There is no way to answer this question. My siblings and I lost both of our parents, both of whom were in their 70s. All of us were living within less than a mile away, and I was within walking distance of my folks. We dedicated all of our time to their welfare. As I lived in closest proximity, I was with them every step of the way.

    I don’t think I deserve any credit for that. My circumstances allowed me to be there. None of it this makes their loss any easier.

    At the same time, my husband and I have one child, a son, who is living on the West Coast, while we live on the East Coast. There doesn’t seem to be any move planned on either coast at this time. But I have made my son understand that it would not be all right with me if he abandoned his dreams to ensure that he is by our side until the end. Hopefully, that end is a long way off!

    I want him to embrace his life and celebrate his accomplishments, forge his way and be happy. There is no doubt in my mind that when we retire — less than a decade hence — my husband and I will gladly make the trek to be near our wonderful son. If the universe doesn’t like that plan, if something should happen before our retirement, then we will deal with it.

    No parent was to be the reason their child abandoned their hopes, goals or plans.

    Be happy, Peri, and stay in touch with your folks as best as you can.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Perimenopause Ponderings says:

    Hi and thank you so much for commenting. You and others on here have made me think of this from a totally different perspective. Your second point especially. I would also be quite upset if my children left their lives, that hopefully in the future they live to the fullest, to care for me. That surely would create another form of guilt and maybe even resentment from them. When the time is right I shall definitely be having this converstion in the future. Helen xx

    Liked by 1 person

  17. All About Life says:

    I moved to France from the UK after I lost my husband and I struggle with guilt feelings too so you have my sympathy. Saying that I believe, now more than ever, that life is too short to live it for other people even if they’re your parents. Hugs xx

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Perimenopausal Ponderings says:

    Thank you. I think you are very right in what you say and that my parents would agree whole heartedly with you. I am very sorry to hear you lost your husband. France is a wonderful place to be. Many moons ago I au paired in Paris. And can I just add that red wine was never off the table !! All “very french” to me then but now look at me 😉😉

    Liked by 1 person

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