Are We “Taking Care Of” or “Over-Coddling” our Elderly and Disabled?

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.

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About jta

South Carolina grandmother who loves to write, dance, and visit with friends and family.
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6 Responses to Are We “Taking Care Of” or “Over-Coddling” our Elderly and Disabled?

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  2. Joan Adams says:

    What an amazing thing — 100 years old! I hope you are all interviewing her often and writing down what she says. What a history she has to share!

    I worked in a nursing home some years ago. Staff was wonderful and loving, but still, many of these folks just wanted to be home with their familiar things. I know sometimes it is impossible. Our mom was in one for a year before she died, and Dad probably kept her home too long. Whitey’s dad was in a nursing home for years! What a horrendous way to live out your remaining days! Serious questions. The older I get, the more I seem to ponder such things. Such difficult decisions for a family to face.

  3. mukunda22 says:

    Recently I was in the room with Tom’s 100 year old Aunt who had broken her hip the day before was now asleep. Family was sitting nearby, chattering about whether or not the Aunt should go into a nursing home, which she does NOT want to do.

    Hearing is a sense that does not recede–and I gently told the folks to take the conversation outside the room. However, when they did, they were talking even more excitedly–and loudly.

    Tom’s aunt is stubborn–and still refusing to go into a Nursing Home, bless her heart!!

    She is an Icon in that family!!
    .-= mukunda22´s last blog ..The Presence Of The Divine: Allow Her To Lead =-.

  4. Randy Mil says:

    Many people I know question me about where they can get useful info on nursing homes as well as retirement in general. Have you got any worthwhile sources that give info on how to find a good nursing facility and retirement plan? My personal website: Adult Family Home Kirkland

  5. Very helpful info. Have you noticed the number of nursing home and assisted living homes are springing up due to the aging baby boomer people? It is absolutely remarkable.

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