“Once you hit 80, it’s a whole new ball game,” – My mama (82).
What changes have you seen in your life after 80, or your parents’ lives? Has it occurred to you that nothing seems normal?
From my point of view, life after 80 becomes a series of ups and downs and all arounds. There doesn’t seem to be any “normal.” At least that’s what I see with my parents and I’ve always thought they were the most successful agers ever.
Daddy is 85 and his health has been a series of good, bad and in-between. That leaves Mama to be the caregiver which also compromises her good health. Worry, stress, too much work — all contribute to caregiver stress. It’s bound to take a toll.
Sleep – My parents used to go to bed with the chickens and rise before the rooster crowed. They slept like logs. Now it’s always something disturbing their sleep. If one is having a good night, the other is itching or having to make too many trips to the bathroom. So, many nights Daddy will sleep in his recliner and Mama upstairs in their bed. But if she wakes up, she goes looking for him and ends up sleeping on the little day bed next to his recliner.
Naps – Mama complains that Daddy sleeps too much during the day. It’s not that she never takes a nap herself. She does, but not every day or for very long. Daddy often falls asleep watching television which is Mama’s other pet-peeve. She hates the television and Daddy’s hearing is so bad he has to turn it up so loud that you can hear it before you pull into the driveway. Lately, Mama has decided to leave this topic alone. That means she’s complaining about it a little less.
Eating – My mama is an excellent cook but she gets really tired of cooking. Since Daddy can’t have too much potassium in his diet and he’s kind of a picky eater, it makes it doubly hard. He once weighed 170 and now he’s down to under 120! So, they’ll get some take out a few times a week until both of them are sick of that. Then they’ll eat a little fast food until they’re done with that. I try to help out with this problem by taking them something I have cooked or picking up something I think they might like. Like most seniors, food is a big deal in their lives.
Driving – Mama has just about quit driving all together so all the driving is left to Daddy. He really doesn’t mind unless he is really sick. Then I do the shopping which I don’t mind a bit. Daddy’s driving now scares my mama. They have quit driving on Sunday to their favorite congregation for church services and rarely go out of town. That leaves them both rather isolated on their two-acre country property. Isolation is not good for anyone — especially seniors. My kids stop by quite often which helps but it’s not the same as visiting with people of their own age.
At this point I’m not sure if there is any normal when you hit the 80s. Their doctor has strongly advised that they sell the place and move into town. At first they both were on board. Now . . . not so much. Daddy would move in a heartbeat if their home didn’t mean so much to my mama.
All in all, they have quite a few really good days. They still enjoy each other’s company and look forward to getting up each day. It’s been hard for Daddy not to feel like he can accomplish much. He knows a lot of work ends up on Mama’s plate. He hates that.
We’d love to hear from all you caregivers out there. What’s normal in your daily life? How are your parents coping with getting older? We need to be in this together. Perhaps we can learn a whole lot by sharing the care-giving load!