Welcome to Stories of Caring for Elderly Parents

Dauna Easley and Marky Olson began teaching together in the early 1970s.  Their paths lead to different parts of the country but the annual Christmas card kept them in touch.

Both of them love writing and both have been published by Chicken Soup for the Soul. Both earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.
Both of them taught elementary school and moved on to teaching high school.
Both enjoy long marriages, children and grandchildren.

And now, both of them are caring for Elderly Parents.

Marky’s mother is gone now and her father lives in an Adult Family Home in the Seattle area.

Dauna’s mother still lives in her own home, near Dauna’s home in the Cincinnati area.

Suddenly, their Christmas-card friendship has rebuilt itself on the strength of the past and the challenging power of walking the final path with elderly parents.

Read Dauna and Marky’s stories in blog posts and their book

Caregiving Elderly Parents: Real Stories from two Caregiving Baby Boomers

Most recent post:

Too Much Stuff

I haven’t added a post in a long while.  Dauna has been sharing as she navigated some very challenging times.  I have been moving.  Actually, it’s called downsizing.  In future posts, I’ll share the emotional challenges, but something a neighbor said yesterday made me realize that if I put the emotional challenges safely away in a box for later, there is a looming logistical issue that we all must face: TOO MUCH STUFF.

My 76 year old neighbor has decided to move to California to be closer to her family.  Her daughter is here this week to help.  I’ve never met the daughter before and I don’t know my neighbor well, as we just moved here 10 months ago.  When I walked their wandering dog home, the daughter said to me with the glazed eye look so common to adult children:

How could my mother possibly have this much stuff?

I lived in a fog of that statement as I cared for my own parents. The reality of dealing with “stuff” became a roller coaster of emotion, frustration and regret. And there is a sneaky, niggling thought that stirs beneath that curving journey.  You know you’re missing something.  You table it, because the situation at hand is taking all of your energy.  Then the sneaky thought surfaces.

You have even more stuff.

I don’t have an easy answer for you.  NO ONE was less willing to leave a longtime home than I was.  The story of how I was able to leave is complicated, deeply personal and ultimately rewarding. One motivator was fear.  I was afraid to leave all of my considerable stuff for my own children.  I didn’t want them to feel the resentment and frustration that I experienced, not because of helping my parents, but because of the endless stuff.   
Here is what I did.
I used the 3- pile approach.     
  1. Can’t live without it.
  2. Can easily say good-bye to this.
  3. Not sure-will reconsider in a few days.
This is a good system, because  winnowing alleviates rash decisions.  When I finished, I started all over.  My husband was doing the same thing. Since we both have hobbies and are do-it-yourselfers, we had a lot of stuff.  The things  that made the can’t-live-without-it cut were in storage while we searched for, found and remodeled a house.  When we unearthed everything, we repeated the above process.  Overall, it worked and the mystery boxes have all been through the process.  Every drawer was cleaned down to the last pencil. A few things, like my mother’s doll buggy, remain in the limbo of can’t-say-good-bye-to-this.  This simplified version makes it sound like it was easy.  It wasn’t.

But there is a sweet reward.  Once you let go and plunge out of your comfort zone, the freedom changes perspective and opens doors.  Organization feels good.  An ironic bonus is that when something “goes” you immediately forget about it. And it’s true that smaller houses are easier to maintain. And I love the smug feeling of closets-with-space.

Memories act as comforts, weigh nothing and take no space. And so it turns out-the gift intended for our daughters is a gift to ourselves as well.

 

 

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