August 21, 2008

Aging Parents: Readers Share Experiences on Moving Out



Last week's column about my 95-year-old father's reluctant move into assisted living touched a chord. Readers called and e-mailed their own stories, with insight and humor.

"Our whole boomer generation is going through this," said a 60- year-old Randolph woman.

"We of the sandwich generation have our hands full," wrote a Hingham resident. "Society makes living into old age possible with modern meds, assisted living, etc. All we can do is love and support them, surprise them with gifts, and most important, listen. Loneliness is inherent in the aging process."

Here are other excerpts:

"Mom will be 92 on Nov. 1," the Randolph woman continued. "She'd been living in her own home in Quincy, climbing 14 stairs to the only bathroom (and her bedroom). Then on June 17, she had a first- ever heart attack.

"After months in the hospital and in rehab, she is scheduled to move into a lovely assisted living apartment complex in Quincy. She has been adamantly resistant to the change, unwilling to recognize her capacities are compromised.

"Mom has become the master of the mixed message. In the space of 30 seconds, she can complain that she is not receiving the attendant care she needs and then protest that she could be home independently, caring for herself right now. She literally manages to express both thoughts in one sentence in a 30-second sound bite.

"I know my mother is waging a monumental battle to maintain her independence, her control over life and her mental acuity. We are trying to reassure her this new apartment-living location will enable her to maintain independence - in a mentally stimulating and safe, life-affirming social setting."

A caller said he is struggling with the same issue with his mother, who is 70 and has health problems. "Do you think it is easier if the parent is younger?" I asked. He replied, "I don't think the age matters as much as the individual and their experience."

Eileen Rutledge of Cohasset advised: "Moving the aged is hard on them and disorienting, but in a few weeks he will be fine and really enjoying it, I bet." John Graham, 77, e-mailed: "There was a time when I would have said that courage was not the right word. But you are quite correct." Walter Shea of Kingston also "completely agreed with the last line in your article, that our seniors have courage. This was the greatest generation and too many times we all forget that."

Rosemary Wahlberg, 77, of Quincy feels that "I know Al Scheible, after following his activities through your writing. I learned a lot of things along the way. Today I was moved to tears, but I appreciate the details of that lovely place that you have chosen. My day will come, and that is what you have helped me to understand."

Heather Ahern, 41, of Bridgewater, a senior move manager, was pleased that I "acknowledged your dad's fear and especially his courage. I see the stress on seniors and their families when moving. A lot of families can relate to what you and your dad are going through."

Linda Defreitas of Hingham called my father a trouper and said, "I, too, am taking care of my mother, who is doing all that she can to remain independent."

Thank you all for your stories, prayers and notes of generosity and hope.

Reporter Sue Scheible can be reached at 617-786-7044, by mail at The Patriot Ledger, P.O. Box 699159, Quincy, MA 02269-9159, or e- mail at [email protected]

Originally published by By SUE SCHEIBLE, The Patriot Ledger.

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