They can creep upon us slowly, or they can appear suddenly.
They are the signs of aging.
All of our parents slow down as they age, and that is normal.
But, there are definitely worrying signs:
What to do when our parents slow down so much that they can no longer care for their home, their yard, or their daily needs? What to do when they no longer remember to take their medications, or even to eat their meals? What to do when cooking becomes a hazard because Mom leaves the stove on? Or perhaps she’s already burned or cut herself? Maybe she’s too tired or forgetful these days to even cook her meals. Maybe she’s gaining weight from improper eating, or maybe she’s losing weight from not eating at all.
Has Dad been obstinate, ornery, or even difficult of late? Is he intolerable of others’ opinions? Does he yell more often? Does he seem simply never to have anything nice to say about anyone or anything anymore? It’s possible he is sick and tired of being sick and tired. Maybe he’s become depressed – late life onset is not uncommon.
As our loved ones age we must keep a watchful eye and have a plan so we won’t be panicked into paralysis or hasty decisions at critical moments. Where will Mom and Dad live when their house is too much to manage on their own? What will become of all their belongings? Who will pack up their things? What charities will be the recipients of any donations? How will their medical and financial choices be respected?
What worrying signs of aging have you noticed in your parents that weren’t there a year ago?
[Rabbi Scott Saulson, Ph.D.]