The Caregiving Season: Finding Grace to Honor Your Aging Parents

The Caregiving Season: Finding Grace to Honor Your Aging Parents

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781589978690
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication date: 09/01/2016
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 565,379
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author


Jane Daly is the author of Because of Grace. Published in 2015 by Hallway Publishing, the book is the inspirational, nonfiction story of her journey through her son's diagnosis of cancer at age 29 and his death the following year.  Jane also contributed to Inspire Press's 2013 Inspire Faith Anthalogy, which included her nonfiction story, Greatest Loss Greatest Gain  In addition to writing a biweekly comunity events column in her local newspaper, Jane has published articles in Compass Magazine, Gospel Publishing House's LIVE, Covenant Home Alter, and Splickety.  

She and her husband, Mike, have served as missionaries in rural Montana, and they currently volunteer as small group leaders and coaches in their church.  Jane also speaks on a variety of subjects related to finance, money management, and spiritual growth.

Read an Excerpt

The Caregiving Season

Finding Grace to Honor your Aging Parents


By Jane Daly

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2016 Jane Daly
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-58997-869-0



CHAPTER 1

SEEING THE SIGNS


When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.

1 CORINTHIANS 13:11


* * *

Our world finally seemed perfect. After a long season as parents of two amazing, happy kids, we no longer had the responsibilities that came with having them at home. I'd started a new job with a huge pay increase. We traveled, ate out, and spent a lot of time with friends.

Life was good. Until things changed. One day several years ago, I noticed some damage to my parents' garage door.

"Did you see my folks' garage?" I asked my husband, Mike.

"No, why?"

Mike and I live in the same townhome complex as my parents. They live at one end of the row, and we live at the other.

"One side of the door is splintered," I explained.

Mike walked down to look. He reported that it looked like someone had clipped the side of the garage.

A few days later at dinner, Mike asked my dad about the damage. Dad harrumphed a few times. Mom told us Dad's foot slipped off the brake when he pulled in.

"I wouldn't have expected it to gouge the side like that," Mike pressed.

After some roundabout explanation, Mom said that perhaps Dad wasn't exactly pointed straight when pulling into the garage. Mike and I exchanged a look, but we laughed it off, ignoring the first warnings of my father's diminishing capacity. Small dings and bumps on the car could happen to anyone. I'd been known to back into parking lot pillars. As simple as that, we slipped into the river of denial.

Later, I learned that many senior drivers don't realize their eyesight, hearing, and reflexes aren't as sharp as they used to be. They may be taking medication that impairs judgment, memory, or coordination, or they may suffer from arthritis or Alzheimer's disease. They may not realize it when they blow past a stop sign, forget to signal a turn, or confuse the gas pedal with the brake.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cites some scary statistics: more than 500 older drivers are injured daily in car accidents, with an average of fifteen killed every day.

> Per mile, fatalities increase at age seventy and notably after age eighty-five, "largely due to increased susceptibility to injury and medical complications among older drivers."

> Declines in vision, cognitive function, and physical abilities affect many older adults as well.

> "Across all age groups, males [have] substantially higher death rates than females."


KING OF THE ROAD

My dad grew up on a farm in rural Pennsylvania in the early 1930s and learned to drive a tractor when he was twelve. He and his younger brother worked hard alongside their father, an immigrant from Germany, and driving young was a given.

When the United States entered World War II, my dad enlisted and my parents were stationed in Arizona. Whenever my father had a three-day pass, my folks would drive from Arizona to Los Angeles to visit my grandparents. From that time until he died, road trips were my dad's favorite pastime. After the military, his job as a salesman for General Electric gave him the opportunity to be on the road three or four days a week during my childhood. He'd think nothing of loading us kids into the station wagon and driving somewhere on the weekend. Perhaps that's why I love riding in the car.

I was twenty when my parents decided to visit Germany and buy a car there. Their plan was to pick it up in Stuttgart, then drive it around Europe for a month before having it shipped back to the States. They invited my grandma, Nini, to go along, and she invited me. Nini didn't want to be a fifth wheel, as she called it. In Europe, Dad confidently took control, driving us from Germany to Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy, and Spain. There was no question about who the driver would be.

When my parents were sixty years old, they built their third motel an hour and a half from their home. To give the manager a day off, they made the drive to that motel every week for twenty years. After they retired, Dad and Mom enjoyed frequent day trips to some of the beautiful places in northern California. When the four of us would take a day trip, my dad always drove. It was his thing. In his generation, men drove; women were the passengers. I can't remember ever seeing my mom take turns driving on a long trip.

Dad became the family taxi driver when my mother's macular degeneration worsened to the point where she was legally blind. They climbed into the car almost every day to run errands. I'd see their red Jeep pass by my living room window and I'd think, "Where are they going this time?"

I was proud my folks were independent. Dad and Mom continued to take their trips to the mountains, they played bridge every week with a group of other retired folks, and they met regularly with friends for dinner and bridge. It seemed like they were always on the go.

After reading a newspaper article about a 101-year-old woman who backed up and plowed into eleven elementary school children, I was grateful my dad could still get around safely without help. Even into his eighties, Dad was robust. He was quick-witted and laughed easily. His interests were varied. He read voraciously, loved using the computer, and knew enough about electricity to be dangerous. His greatest joy was to come home from a morning of garage sale shopping with a bargain. I'd often have lunch or coffee with him, and he always asked about my work. "You're the Queen Bee there," he'd tell me.


DETOUR AHEAD

Several months after the garage door incident, we were having dinner with my parents when my mom asked, "Do you know how to get hold of Henry? We need him to do some work." Henry is the maintenance man for our townhome complex.

"What are you having done?" Mike asked as he gave Mom the phone number.

My parents exchanged a look. "Dad crashed into the side of the garage."

"Again?" I exclaimed.

Mom told us that Dad couldn't get his foot from the gas pedal to the brake pedal in time to stop.

We knew Dad had been having some issues with weakness and pain in his legs, but I didn't realize it had become that bad. Fear swept over me, as did a premonition that life was about to change. Was there more to this than just a small fender bender? Was my eighty-five-year-old dad losing his mind? Would he turn into someone I didn't recognize?

I'd seen this happen to other people as they aged. When my grandmother suffered a series of small strokes, her short-term memory and some of her long-term memory disappeared. Our conversations went like this:

"What's new in your world?" Nini would ask.

I'd tell her about my job, the kids, and Mike. When I was finished, she'd sip her coffee, looking off into the distance.

After a few seconds of silence, she'd turn to face me again and ask, "So what's new in your world?"

Eventually she forgot who I was.

Would Dad become forgetful too? I couldn't seem to face Dad's diminishing capacity. In my mind, step one was to quit driving, step two would be moving directly to an assisted-living facility, and step three was death.

In the next few days and weeks, Mike and I talked endlessly about what we should do. Was it time to talk with Dad about giving up his driver's license? What would that mean for us? Mike worked thirty minutes away from home. I was still in the early months of my new job. Who would take Mom and Dad to the doctor, the pharmacy, the grocery store? My biggest fear was this: telling my dad that I was taking away his driver's license — his ticket to independence and freedom.

Millions of older drivers have never had so much as a speeding ticket in years of driving. Many self-regulate themselves by driving less often and avoiding frightening high-speed highways. But they can still be a menace on neighborhood streets. A Consumer Reports article I read states, "People eighty and older are involved in 5.5 times as many fatal crashes per mile driven as middle-aged drivers." I was terrified Dad wouldn't be able to stop at a crosswalk filled with children.

I could see Dad being responsible for some gruesome traffic accident with dead bodies strewn on the street. Or he'd hit a light pole and be killed. I remembered one time when Mom told me Dad had drifted into oncoming traffic and she had to yell at him. He jerked back into the correct lane, but Mom was frightened. We had to do something. But if Dad couldn't drive Mom around, who would? Did I have to give up my life to become a taxi service for my folks?

My prayers were requests for strength to find the words to say to Dad and wisdom in saying them. I prayed for peace, for relief from my fears, and for God to keep me from being selfish. I was worried that more would be required of me than I was willing to give.

My dad always called me "Chickie" and "Queen Bee." His encouragement through the years gave me the will to succeed at whatever I put my mind to. He repeatedly told me, "You can do anything you want." Whether he was dispensing advice ("When it stops being fun, quit") or asking his usual question ("Do you need any walking-around money?"), his love for me was evident.

How could I ask my dad to stop doing the one thing he loved doing above all else? I wanted my oldest brother to step up and call a family meeting so I didn't have to lose my place as the adored baby of the family. Giving up this role would be the first of the losses I would face.

One of my friends reported her dad to the Department of Motor Vehicles because she was afraid for his safety. When it came time to renew his license, he was informed it was cancelled. To my friend's chagrin, her father continued to drive. He totaled his car, bought another, and had a fender bender in that one.

She tried taking the keys away. Her dad had a spare set. She took those, too. He walked across the street to his neighbors' house and borrowed their car! He finally gave up driving, but the process involved a lot of "kicking and screaming" — on both their parts.

Would Mike and I have to go through the same thing to get my dad to stop driving?


BE ANXIOUS FOR NOTHING

Over the following weeks, there would be many such moments of questioning and preparing myself for the changes to come. As I suspected, this was only the start of losses for Dad ... and for me. I felt the beginning of the end of my father's vibrant life. I knew my life would change, and I was anxious. My dad was anxious too, though he didn't show it outwardly. He hated to depend on anyone, especially his Chickie. As my distress over my dad's loss of function mounted, I was brought back to I Peter 5:7: "Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you."

Since that time, I've learned that it's vital to have discussions with our elderly loved ones about how they view their final years. Consider their vision of the future and see if it matches reality. It's also important to talk about how much care you can reasonably provide. Talk about the "what-ifs." What if they need in-home care? What if one or both parents need to move into an assisted- living facility? What if you're not available to help? As you begin to consider the questions, be ready to present your parents with various options to help alleviate any fears about the future.

Most states and counties offer services for seniors. The website SeniorAdvisor.com compares housing options for most states and Canada. The cost of public transportation is discounted for the elderly, and many counties offer door-to-door service for visually impaired or disabled seniors. Taxis and private transportation companies like Uber and Lyft are also an alternative to driving. Many grocery stores deliver. Once you've seen the warning signs, it's time to consider what services your parents may need to continue living independently.


Grace Growers

1. Has your elderly loved one shown signs of loss of function? Consider how you can prayerfully begin a discussion about the changes you and they can expect as the months and years progress.

2. It's difficult to watch your parents growing older. Consider your relationship as their child, and ask yourself how that role may change. How will you show them grace as they begin to expect more from you? Read i Corinthians 13:11. Consider ways in which you still think or act like a child. Ask God to show you how you can, with grace, begin to come alongside your parents in this season of loss.

3. Meditate on I Peter 5:7. Make a conscious effort to take your anxiety to Jesus, and allow Him to carry it. Picture Him walking beside you, holding your hand as you journey into the caregiving season.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Caregiving Season by Jane Daly. Copyright © 2016 Jane Daly. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

Foreword, ix,
Introduction, xiii,
PART ONE ACKNOWLEDGING LOSS,
CHAPTER 1 Seeing the Signs, 3,
CHAPTER 2 Dad, Can I Have the Car Keys?, 13,
CHAPTER 3 What Happened to My Dad?, 23,
CHAPTER 4 Calling 9-1-1 Again, 33,
CHAPTER 5 Getting Old Is Messy, 41,
CHAPTER 6 How to Say Good-bye, 49,
PART TWO BARGAINING WITH GRACE,
CHAPTER 7 May I Be Frank?, 63,
CHAPTER 8 Sibling Rivalry, 71,
CHAPTER 9 The Line in the Sand, 79,
CHAPTER 10 Nourishing Body and Soul, 87,
CHAPTER 11 Letting Go of Expectations, 95,
CHAPTER 12 Guilty or Not Guilty?, 101,
CHAPTER 13 Heart Care, 109,
CHAPTER 14 Money Talks, 117,
CHAPTER 15 Give Me a Break, 127,
PART THREE ACCEPTING NEW ROLES,
CHAPTER 16 A Different State of Mind, 139,
CHAPTER 17 A Trap or a Blessing?, 149,
CHAPTER 18 Marriage and Caregiving, 155,
PART FOUR EXITING WITH GRACE,
CHAPTER 19 End-of-Life Decisions, 167,
Final Thoughts, 179,
Acknowledgments, 183,
Notes, 185,
Suggested Resources, 191,

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