In the blink of an eye, we’re touching 40, and have an ageing parent. Where oh where did the time go I always ask myself? One minute I was a five year old sat up in a highchair singing along to a radio while my mum got the vegetables ready for the Sunday roast. The next I’m pushing forty and having to heave my mum up off the sofa because she can’t get up by herself, poor thing. I’m still very much learning about having an ageing parent, but here are some things I know, about this strange set of circumstances.
The thing about having an ageing parent, is thatit kind of takes you by surprise. You look back at photos of them from five years ago, and they look twenty years younger. Suddenly they hit 70 and the ageing process accelerates like crazy. I’m not talking about these 70 year old celebrities who look amazing and have done everything in their power to beat ageing. I’m talking about average, every day people. Your mum and dad. The change happens drastically, and seemingly overnight!
Do you know what my mum’s response to pretty much anything I say or suggest is?
It almost doesn’t matter what I am saying, if it is the best idea in the world – it will be met with a no. Theextreme stubbornness, almost for stubbornness’ sake can be extremely frustrating, but you do get used to it. It almost becomes a sort of an in-joke.
In many ways, having an ageing parent is like having another child, without actually going through the process of having one. Your ageing parent starts to become more vulnerable mentally, emotionally and physically. You check in on them all the time. Are they eating, are they sleeping, why are they getting up to all manner of naughty things?I may only have one child, but most of the time, I feel like I have two!
My mum may look 50, but she usually feels like she’s 90. People literally can not believe it when I tell them she is 70. Her skin is radiant, her face beautiful, but her body lets her down time and time again. They fall over. They fall asleep all the time, exhausted by the day. Then they fall over when they sleep because they fell asleep somewhere unsuitable – like at their computer. Yes that’s right…they literally fall off the chair asleep. They struggle to get in to baths, and out of baths. Thank goodness for walk in baths is all I can say! Now all we need is the invention of a computer stool that is impossible to fall off.
Seeing the person raise you shrivel and shrink, become overwhelmed and forgetful is a hard slap in the face of reality. It makes you realise just how fast life zooms by. And that before you know it, you’ll be looking your mini me in the eye as a shrivelled and shrinking, overwhelmed and forgetful ageing parent too, wondering where those baby days went.
Ageing brings with it many wonderful things – like not having to wear socks because somebody tells you to. But it also brings into sharp focus the vulnerability of humans and our fleeting existence in time on this planet. It’s the most humbling of experiences, and one none of us can escape.
Do you have an ageing parent? What have been your takeaways so far? Do share in a comment below.