Several blogs that I read have been discussing challenges of caring for aging and ill parents and I was reminded as I read my latest book, Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science by Atul Gawande, of the challenge of making medical decisions not just for ourselves but for our parents.
Two years ago Keith and I brought his father to live with us and cared for him in the months before he died of complications from Leukemia. One accusation his mother would make was that it was *easy* for me because I was a nurse. Well I hadn't worked as a clinician in 10 years and caring for a family member at home is different anyway. It was very rewarding but certainly not easy.
My Mom lives alone in Virginia and so I'm also struggling with how to be there and available to her when she has health issues. Having the flexibility to go help her when needed is one of the reasons I choose not to work outside the home.
For those readers in the group these are the books that I found helpful as I cared for Keith's Dad and I as continue to try and be there for my Mom. I would also suggest that you obtain a copy of your parent's living wills and make sure you understand what their wishes are. Some of the most difficult decisions we made were possible because we knew they were what his Dad wanted.
How to Care for Aging Parents
Caregiving As Your Parents Age
The 36 Hour Day: A Family guide to caring for persons with Alzheimer Disease, Related Dementing Illnesses, and Memory Loss in Later Life
And the book that helped me most when it was time to let Keith's dad go.
Dying Well: Peace and Possibilities at the End of Life by Ira Byock, MD