Learning About Aging, Self and Decline

Hands of an old woman and a young man. Caring for the elderly. close up

Hands of an old woman and a young man. Caring for the elderly. close up.

I had a very disturbing call with my 86 year old mother early this week who is trying to manage the care of her sister, who is 88 and lives in an assisted living facility. 

My aunt, who has a long history of paranoia is now rapidly descending into extreme paranoia and delusions. My aunt believes that there are people living in her closet, led by a man, who is stealing from her and selling her things to make money.

My aunt has a psychiatrist interview her yesterday at the request of the facility, but the doctor only felt that she was depressed and prescribed an antidepressant. My aunt was successful in hiding her paranoia and delusions. Taking care of her elder sister is extremely stressful and exhausting for my mother.

It is a hard thing to watch parents and older family members age. I live two and a half hours from my parents and my aunt. So in some ways, my life is insulated from them. But when I go home for a visit, as I did this weekend, it is stressful and exhausting.

I have thought of moving my aunt close to me and taking care of her. The idea sounds good until I think of what I would have to give up to do so. As a gay man who only came out a few years ago, I am loving my new life. I have a boyfriend who I am spending a lot of free time with. I have new friends who I enjoy and the new life that I cherish. I don’t have much free time in my life and don’t really want to devote years taking care of an elder relative or parent. 

I have been lucky that my parents have been relatively healthy up to this point. But my father at 87 is aging rapidly. He fell into the bathtub after waking in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, just a few days ago. After a car accident earlier this year his insurance company rescinded his car insurance, which is a good thing, as he was a danger on the road. Watching your parents age is hard to do. I remember my parents and aunt as vital individuals but that vitality is quickly going. My mother remains the only healthy one of the bunch but she is very stressed caring for my aunt and is afraid she will go from caring for my aunt only to have to take care of my father.

Getting older sucks as we all try and retain our vigor and youth.

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