How To Cope When You’re Caring For Aging Parents
Family care can be stressful. A family man asks how he can cope with the stress of caregiving while taking care of his own children and elderly parents.Show/Hide Transcript
Brother Donald Pinnock: Today, I’m talking to Darivoj from Toronto, Canada. He’s an only child who grew up in a working-class family, and he, himself, is nearing retirement as an educator or teacher. Now, he has to take care of his frail parents, his elderly father and mother. In fact the world is indeed dealing with an aging population.
[On screen text graphics – source: 150.statcan.gc.ca]
The number of people aged 80 and older is expected to more than double to 3.3 million by 2036.
Brother Donald: But as the average lifespan increases we are now seeing the toll of aging parents on their children, who, in turn, can be recognized as the aging caregivers. And Darivoj is here to talk about this challenging aspect of his life. So join us in our conversation, and let’s look for the solution together.
Brother Donald: Welcome to the program, Darivoj. I’d like to know a little about your background.
Darivoj: I went to elementary school here, went to high school here, went to a few universities here, a college in the States for teacher’s college.
Brother Donald: So you’ve been a teacher of sorts for how many years now?
Darivoj: So I’ve been a full-time teacher for 21 years, but I’ve had my teacher’s license for about 26—27 years.
Brother Donald: That’s fantastic. You’ve helped to mold the minds of many young people.
Darivoj: I hope so. I mean, now that I am a guidance counselor now, not a classroom teacher, I get a chance to see students in a different light. I’m not necessarily teaching them subject matter, but I am sometimes fulfilling the role of a parent or a confidant, an adult, a father, depending on what the situation calls for. That’s pretty rewarding.
Brother Donald: How about your personal life?
Darivoj: I’m married with two children. I have parents here who are not very well.
Brother Donald: How old are your parents?
Darivoj: My father is 83 and my mother is 79.
Brother Donald: Getting on?
Darivoj: Getting on.
Brother Donald: What’s your challenge now with your situation?
Darivoj: My father suffered a stroke when he was 61 years old, and for the next 21 years he’s been semi-paralyzed, and now the problem is that he, up until very recently, he was able to at least get up and then walk with a stick. But he doesn’t have the power to get up now so he’s basically bedridden, so that’s a huge problem for my mom and myself ‘cause we’re not sure. We have social care workers coming into the house, but it’s a work in progress.
Brother Donald: How about the mobility of your mother? Is she still able to get around?
Darivoj: She’s got a genetic disorder, degeneration of the spine where you bend over and you end up locked in a bent position after a while, so she has quite the debilitating condition, so it’s very difficult for her to take care of him.
Brother Donald: And you’re the only child?
Darivoj: I’m the only child.
Brother Donald: So in many ways you’re trying to help when it comes to looking after your children, while you have your family. Is that correct?
Brother Donald: It must be a challenge.
Darivoj: It is a challenge. One thing I struggle with, Brother Donald, is the absence of certainty. When I’m looking at, you know, taking care of my parents or taking care of my children, what I fall back on is a kind of an innate feeling that what I’m doing is right, but without, in my case, religion to fall back on. I see, for example, my other colleagues who are religious, some of your parishioners, they have a certain confidence or certainty when they’re dealing with things, and I don’t have that to fall back on.
Brother Donald: You know your efforts, Darivoj, they’re commendable.
Darivoj: Thank you.
Brother Donald: Considering that you have a family you still have your career, and at the same time you’re trying to look after your parents. In fact, what you’re doing is very much like what’s written in the Bible. In fact, we can read here in Ephesians 6 and the verse is 2, and it states this:
“Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise.”
[Ephesians 6:2 New King James Version]
Brother Donald: When it comes to your labor and sacrifices, you’re really showing honor, or we can use a synonym—respect—when it comes to your mother and father. You know, sad to say, there are so many people nowadays, once their parents become debilitated they’d rather stick them in the nursing home right away. You, yourself, you’re trying to hold off from that situation or that course of action, and through all these years you’ve been trying to help them and support them. Please notice the Bible clearly teaches that this is a commandment of God that when we fulfill, there is a promise. Well let’s read here in the book of Exodus, and the chapters 20 and the verse is 12:
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”
[Exodus 20:12 New King James Version]
Brother Donald Pinnock: So, meaning to say, for those who are able to show that sincere love, that respect when it comes to their parents, God has a promise for them, all the more he’s going bless those kinds of children. And I believe in different ways you’ve been blessed in your life because you have sincere care, you’ve not shirked your responsibility when it comes to looking after your parents.
Darivoj: I feel there’s a compulsion of some kind to do the best that I can for them and for my children.
Brother Donald: You know, you still have that compulsion, and that urge, and that desire to look after your parents, I mean that’s that’s really commendable, Darivoj, that’s really commendable. And in many ways you’re just trying to show to your parents that you really appreciate all their efforts and all their sacrifices and labors for you. You’re a good example when it comes to one who is prepared to make those sacrifices in order to look after their aging parents.
Darivoj: It’s comforting to know that the wisdom that comes from the Bible is correlating to the actions in my life, even though I haven’t necessarily been guided explicitly by the teachings of the Bible.
Brother Donald: So maybe that’s a quantum of solace for you to understand that what you’re doing is really a good thing. But, you know, let’s talk about reality. You know, time comes by, and just like myself and many other people, they have to go through that experience of when the parents—they finish their course, and you know we’re kind of left there. My parents, they passed away years ago.
Darivoj: Sorry to hear that.
Brother Donald: Yeah, so we can say it’s a part of life, but the inevitability is, you know…
Darivoj: It will happen sooner or later.
Brother Donald: How would you prepare?
Darivoj: Even though I’m in my mid-50s, I haven’t really lost anyone that close, so I really don’t have anything to go by in terms of preparing me for the loss of a parent. I don’t know how that’s going to look like.
Brother Donald: When it does happen though, there are some consoling words of the Holy Bible that I’d like to read for you. It’s written here in Psalms 27 and the verse is 10.
My father and mother may abandon me, but the Lord will take care of me.
[Psalms 27:10 Today’s English Version]
Brother Donald: So when the time does come, you know, there is the Lord our God. He’s the one who’s going to take care of us, that’s why when it comes to us members of the Church Of Christ, we have that consolation that, you know, when our parents finish their course of life here on Earth, still we can place our hope and our trust in God. He’ll help us to bear that period of bereavement that can last for many years, with a sense that He’s there to be our support, give us that leg up, to give us the ability to go on with life. But like I said, when it comes to the members of the Church, we do place our hope and our trust in God, and the reason how, or the reason why we do that—allow me to read Psalms 62, and the verses are 5-8.
I depend on God alone;
I put my hope in him.
He alone protects
and saves me;
he is my defender,
and I shall never
My salvation and honor
depend on God;
he is my strong protector;
he is my shelter.
Trust in God
at all times, my people.
Tell him all your troubles
for he is our refuge.
[Psalms 62:5-8 Today’s English Version]
Brother Donald: For us members of the Church Of Christ, God, to us, is our protector, our defender, our deliverer—He gives us comfort in those difficult times in our life. He gives us the physical, as well as, the spiritual or inner strength. And most especially, as the Bible teaches, God is my salvation. That’s why we believe that God has a salvation awaiting us at the appointed time. So that’s why we are inviting you, whenever you get the opportunity, of course, there’s no compulsion whatsoever, but we do invite you to, you know, come to our worship service, spend time with us members of the Church Of Christ.
Darivoj: Even though I’m not a member of the Church, currently, let’s say, I’ve been welcomed here, and you’ve taught me that what I’m doing regarding my parents and and how I’m conducting my life for the most part is in the right direction, or that I’m kind of in the right path. I know that you have it, and it’s a source of strength, and, you know, we can all use a source of strength in our time of need.
Brother Donald: And the greatest strength that we have comes from above, comes from our Almighty God. We are hoping that you benefited from this program today
Darivoj: Absolutely. It was a great pleasure to be here with you today.
Brother Donald: And we wish you the very best, and the same when it comes to your parents.
Darivoj: Thank you, Brother Donald.
Brother Donald: Thank you so very much.
Thanks for joining our conversation today on The Solution. I’m brother Donald Pinnock, and we hope to see you next time.