For baby boomers and seniors, the balance between caring for our elderly and smothering their independence is a very very delicate one. It reminds me of mothering little children – as they learn to walk, the first day at school, the first ride around the block on a bicycle, the first night out in the car. How agonizing that was for me as a parent! Every single step! Parental pride, of course, with each step. But agonizingly difficult! We want our children to grow up and we don’t want to let them go — all at the same time!
The very same tension exists with our elderly and disabled. How much control is too much? Where do we draw the line? Is tending the garden too physically difficult for mom? Is it time to make her stop and maybe build her a little garden on the deck?
With my legally blind husband, I have faced these issues almost daily. How much coddling is protection and how much interferes with his independence? Do I really want him to be that dependent on me? Gradually I have let go. Very gradually. But it is necessary. He must be allowed to live his life without a day full of nagging from me — even when I am afraid for him.
Yes, Susan, after your comment about your 80 year old dad buying himself a bicycle for transportation, I have been pondering this issue. How delightful that your dad thought about the bicycle! I just love that! And can see him now, pedaling down the street! If you have ever visited Key West, Florida, you know all those 80 and 90 year olds ride their bicycles everywhere, often with a poodle in the bicycle basket. They seem to be having a fabulous time!
Yes, we must perform the common sense safety precautions, as we did with our children, but then, we have to let go. And it’s no easier with our parents or disabled spouses than it was with our children. But let go we must. And we will.