Nothing prepares you for your parents aging

Nothing prepares you for your parents aging. Our company can assist with the financial scams and pitfalls, but you’re the one who has to watch Mom, Dad, Grandma or Grandad age and weaken.

It’s heart wrenching. I write this column as a daughter who has a demented mother (87) and a weakened, non-driving father (93).

Mother is in a nursing home. This nursing home has an excellent reputation and a low employee turnover rate but it still is one of those places where the halls are filled with moaning people in wheelchairs or portable beds.

This home charges close to $7.000 a month but accepts Medicaid. This means we had to impoverish Mom. By “impoverish” I mean I had to do the paperwork to make her Medicaid eligible. We now pay a little over $700 a month. I do not have the words to detail the pain and humiliation that I felt in using my legal education to make my mother poor enough so she could live with other poor people in her old age.

This is not what she wanted nor is it what we wanted. However, Dad is lucid, Mother is not — we couldn’t afford both and neither could they.

Each time I visit Mom I cut her nails, take off the old nail polish, pay for a weekly hairdresser. rub Lubriderm on her skin and place vaseline on her lips. It kills me to leave her although I know in five minutes she won’t remember I was there. But, there is a silver lining, Mom and I were oil and water as I grew up. We simply didn’t get along. Today however, it gives me great joy to minister unto her — to do little things that allow her to feel special and loved. She always has tears in her eyes when I say goodby and so do I But (and this is important) I know when she dies I will have done all I can. For that I’m grateful.

I am a “Daddy’s Girl,” so watching him weaken is difficult. On one hand I’m so grateful that he has a quality of life that allows him to live alone in an assisted living facility, but I still have to cut his nails, hire a barber, and cajole him to use his walker. I accompany him to the 3:30 p.m. weekly Happy Hour when I’m in town. but I see his failure to thrive. Who can blame him? He lives in a place with lots of old people, all of whom are simply trying to get through the day. I know Dad is ready to leave us. I don’t want him to but I know he’s tired of growing old.

And let me end this column by stating that as hard as it has been for me I am once removed. My father chose to live in Atlanta where my brother and his family reside and Matt has had to deal with the day to day. Matt is more stoic, but he also is the baby of the family — and this is a true role reversal for him. He does a phenomenal job and I’m grateful.

At Parent Your Parents we have Dr. Ronda Fuchs, PsyD, and Rivka Caroline. MS in Psychology, who help both the seniors and the children learn to deal with the tough emotional issues surrounding the dynamics of the changes in the family structure.

Frances Reaves, Esq., a graduate of the University of Miami Law School, spent 10 years as a litigator/lobbyist. Today, she Is an accomplished business woman who, when her parents could no longer take care of themselves, learned the ins and outs of senior care (or the lack thereof). She founded Parent Your Parents to assist seniors and their children through the myriad pitfalls and options of “senior care” in the 21st Century. If you have any questions or comments contact Frances at

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