When You're 64

When You're 64

You May Be Ready to Retire, But What About Mom and Dad?

By Terry Hargrave

July/August 2005

"I really can't believe this is happening to me right now," said Laurie, a vigorous 66-year-old who had big plans to travel with her newly retired husband. "My mother has always been independent and healthy, until last spring, when she began not feeling well--tired all the time, trouble breathing, chest pain. The doctors have finally said that she has heart disease and, because she's almost 90, there's not a lot to do." Laurie's mother had also become moody, forgetful, and needy, and there were signs of early dementia. "Just in the last month, she's stopped driving, stopped shopping for herself, and I have to insist every day that she bathe and brush her teeth." n Laurie sighed heavily, as the reality of

her life fell on her like a heavy, musty old coat. "All of a sudden, my life totally revolves around my mother's needs. I hate to say it, but I resent the fact that I'm losing the life I thought I'd have--you know, seeing my grandchildren and enjoying my retirement. Now it feels like I have another child to take care of. My mother's a good person, and I feel guilty about even saying I resent taking care of her--but I do."

Laurie had just been introduced to a new world. Like Laurie, all of us have been hearing about this new world for quite some time, and may even have seen some early-warning signs in our own families. But until you discover that it's your own elderly mother or father who's "failing," forcing

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