Sunday, February 5, 2012

Bittersweet procrastination

I have an overwhelming number and variety of things to get done this month, related either to aging relatives or children who refuse to do homework.  But I want to take the time to mention this book that I read last month: A Bittersweet Season: Caring for Our Aging Parents and Ourselves, by Jane Gross.  2011, Alfred A. Knopf.  The author also started the NY Times blog The New Old Age.

Here are just three of the many helpful things I read in this book:

“Denial runs deep, and the odds that you are reading this book to prepare for something that hasn’t yet happened are slim, no matter how much I wish otherwise.  More than likely, you’re already in the thick of things, as I was, and have already made your share of panicky mistakes. There’s little to be gained by going back down the pointless highway of second-guessing yourself.  I, you, most of us do the best we can, just as our parents did the best they could with us when we were children, getting tons of things wrong, or just a few, some because of omission and some commission but guided, except in rare instances, by good intentions.”  P. 56

“You can judge the quality of geriatric care from hospital to hospital by how they manage dentures.” 

One of the main indicators that a person is reaching a state of dependency on others is whether she can rise from a chair without pushing off with her hands.

As soon as I read that last one, I panicked and had to try it myself.  No, I haven’t reached a state of dependency yet, it seems, but I hope and pray when my turn approaches that I’ll do something about it before I reach that point.  Today I needed to actually do some paid work, but it was a rare sunny day here, so I bagged the work and instead went for a walk in the park with Youngest Daughter.  I have not been getting any exercise.  There are some times when procrastination is just good for one’s mental health.  


Cassi Renee said...

Dentures, huh? Something to keep in mind. I really dread the point where my parents can't take care of each other. They've just both been extremely independent, in fact my mom (83) still regrets retiring from teaching 2 years ago. But unfortunately, bodies weren't designed to last forever.

Is your daughter really refusing to do homework? Or just interminably slow and combative?

Common Household Mom said...

Cassi, that's wonderful to hear that your parents are still independent. If you can be thankful for that, I think that is good, and if things are difficult later on, remember these times. My Mom is still teaching (at the graduate level) and she will be 80 in May! I think it's the one thing that keeps her sane.

The book I mentioned is not necessarily a _fun_ read, but it was VERY helpful to me. Not all the scenarios in the book pertain to our family's situation, but it still helped in hearing someone else's story about her aging parent.

My daughter, my daughter... yes, she acts in all those ways. Sigh.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

This sounds like a must-read for anyone with aging parents. Period.

Italia said...

Having been a major caregiver during the last years of my parents lives I was interested to see what Jane Gross had to say in this book. Death and caring for those we love in their last years and last days is never an easy subject to approach, especially in the form of a book. Most of us assume our parents are just going to keep clicking right along and then when it seems they suddenly cannot care for themselves we are shocked. In reality their decline has been coming on and we just do not want to see it. Jane relates what she and her brother and her mother experienced in her mother's last years. She tells it straightforward and with honesty. And underlying throughout the book is a sense of "it is ok to feel what you feel" as you go through this process. This book is a valuable resource for any child whose parent(s) are approaching their declining years. Difficult to talk about - yes.