On Caring for Aging Parents
"This was the worst vacation ever!"
That's a quote from my son – his reflections on our recent vacation that was cut short after two days when my mom, who lives with us and was with us on our trip, had medical issues that sent her to a hospital. The complications were still ongoing weeks later. Oh, and did I mention the hospital she's been in is a few hours away from the house? Yes it's true, I wouldn't make this up. Maybe the kid is right.
"Normal" got redefined for my family a couple years ago when we bought a house big enough to accommodate both our immediate family and my mom. It's been great having her with us. It's been a real win-win situation. But now it's time to switch gears. She going to need more than she's giving. My wife and I knew that going into this. It was part of the deal we signed up for.
For my wife and I, we felt convicted to buy a larger home and have mom move in after my dad passed away. My mom, being an introvert, would have probably survived on her own, but she wouldn't have thrived. Even introverts need community. This arrangement gives my mom not only a sense of community, but also a sense of purpose. While this type of arrangement is not a command of Scripture, it's certainly an implication of the gospel. This arrangement allows us practical ways to demonstrate the gospel in everyday ways. She gets to see how the gospel is lived out. Because of this arrangement, we've had many conversations about a wide range of topics that we wouldn't have had otherwise.
So now, "normal" around our house is about to change. More than likely, at least in the initial stages of her recovery, mom shouldn't be left alone. This means my wife and I will have to change our work schedules to ensure one of us is there all the time. We will accompany her to all doctor appointments and follow-ups to make certain we understand how to care for her and help her take care of herself. Basically we are going to get "all up in her business." We've gone so far as to set up a temporary bedroom on the first floor of our house to keep her on the main level. All of this to best care for her. While there may be easier ways, we wouldn't have it any other way because we know this God's plan and we trust him.
We've been blessed in many ways by having mom with us. Now, it's our turn to be a blessing to her. Because this is what family members do – they take care of each other. Just like God taking care of those he adopted into his family. Just like the family of God does for each other. We see this opportunity to care for my mom as a practical application of the sixth commandment, “Honor your father and mother …” (Ex. 20:12)