Caregiving vs. Career
“My elderly parents were the priority and I devoted myself to their needs. For example, it meant so much to them to know they would be able to be driven to anything. I never let them down. For over a decade their evening social engagements as well as other commitments took precedence over plans my husband and I had and over plans with my friends.
Meanwhile I was heading an organization and raising two active, school-age children. My children are now married, my parents gone; I gave up doing anything for myself and it was difficult to take up where I left off after a decade….” from my unpublished manuscript. (Daughter speaking about very social parents, who died around age 90, and could afford the best caregiving.)
We need to do what we objectively need to do; but what we feel we need to do also has bearing. After making the effort, we don’t want to be left with regrets about our parents or about the choices we made. And keeping our career going vs. caregiving–in all its permutations–affects our lives as well as the lives of our aging parents.
We aren’t perfect. Even when we try our best,
there can be regrets.
Adult children interviewed for my book, caregivers or not, shared a common regret: they couldn’t/didn’t spend more quality time with their parents. As the opening quote illustrates, those who tried to do it all (even when finances and 24/7 front-line caregiving weren’t issues) had regrets.
Whether the latter group had a full-time job outside their home or gave up their “life,” whether there was money for aging parents to afford excellent home care or not, helping old parents age well is a 24/7 mental–if not physical–responsibility that doesn’t go away.
Even a daughter who juggled a full life, who visited her widowed mother almost every day, who ultimately brought her mother to live with her until age 103, had regrets.
“My life was so busy (my job, my two boys, my husband, running the household) I couldn’t just sit down and, you know, have a cup of tea with my mother and let the stories of our family history sink in. I half-listened, but there were always other things on my mind….” from my manuscript.
Linkedin and a career may not have a place in our lives as we try to help parents age well–or perhaps it will. Knowing ourselves and figuring out what’s important and works for us and for our parents is key. And to do this and avoid reacting when problems occur, we need to have a game plan beforehand. (preceding post). That way we know why we made the decisions we’ve made. Aging parents deserve this much. We do too!
Last year my blog was a finalist for “Best of the Web.” This year there’s a page for voting. If you’re on Facebook or Google 1+, I’d appreciate your vote. Click: http://www.seniorhomes.com/d/help-aging-parents/ Thanks.