This blog has covered many topics over the years. Those topics include independence and activity, even in late retirement. My mother and father in- law have been the topic of those discussions on more than one occasion.
During their retirement, husband's parents were generally active, his father especially so. They traveled (including a cruise all the way down the Amazon), they entertained, they were involved. My father in-law volunteered and mentored homeless and abused children. He was taking Zumba and walking the track at the rec center well past eighty. Also after eighty, he was completely rebuilding a Triumph Spitfire. I've shared more than once about the Christmas that he brought me into the garage to see his car and told me that he planned to change out the engine the next day.
They had paid off their home and planned to retire in place after doing some renovations, thinking that if they had to have someone come in, that would not be a problem. Unfortunately the best laid plans and all that. A few years ago, my mother in-law had a stroke. This meant that John's father had to care for her. It soon became to difficult and at the (admittedly mildly aggressive) urging of their children, they sold their house and moved into independent living.
Two years ago, my mother in-law passed away in August. In the beginning, my father in-law seemed to be doing well. When I traveled to Texas the Christmas afterward, I took him to church (he was going on his own), on Christmas eve. He was going out and about on trips, exercising in the facility and more. I suspect now that he was putting on a good show. His daughter lived two hours away and is still working in a position that requires long hours. Another daughter lives three hours away, and his son lived five hours away and also holds an executive job. They traveled to see him, they took him to his medical appointments and they visited as much as it could, but unfortunately it was not enough. While I was not there, I suspect depression had set in as well.
One year ago, my sister in-law's husband suggested that Jim move in with them, in their house, three hours away. That is what happened, and it has been a blessing all around (from what I see and hear as an occasional visitor). While I traveled last Christmas, I saw my Jim in Dallas as he had taken the train up for the holiday. This time, I managed to travel to Killeen with my daughter, and spend some quality time with all three member of the family down there.
I am happy to say that it works and it works well. Admittedly my father in-law has deteriorated. He's been in the hospital with sepsis a couple times, and his balance and energy have gone downhill a bit. He has chronic low grade diarrhea which limits his ability to go out much these days (although I was there when his nurse came and he is still very strong). His goal is to get his strength and balance back so he is able to walk his bulldog puppy. He has been diagnosed with some dementia (he told me three times in a morning that he still does the hard crossword puzzle every day, and yet he remembered every single street he lived on as a boy).
In short, he is very, very happy. As are my sister in-law and her husband. Admittedly, they have unique circumstances. He is retired military and going to school part time. She is retired and enjoys being at home, even though for now he is close to a full time job. They still go out, in fact they went on a cruise and had a provider in to care for him during that time. Mainly they are homebody's in retirement who decided to build a pool so that all their friends could come and visit them. They have a routine, and it works for them. We all went out for dinner while I was there, and dad being dad, paid for it all.
Every situation with an elderly parent is different, as is every family. This particular parent is financially secure enough to contribute (and his daughter is a tiger when dealing with insurance and other issues). He and my sister in-law and her husband have always had a close relationship. Their house is laid out in such a manner that he has his own bedroom and bathroom. They live in a neighborhood where friends drop by often, and he has become part of their group and welcomed by all the adults and children that visit. He's an intelligent guy who can self entertain for the most part.
We all have to do what's right for us and our parent. In my case, looking at my in laws, I suspect were my parents living, that I would need to make the same choice.
There is no right or wrong though, when it comes to caring for our parents and other family members.
Would you have a parent live with you at this point in your life?
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