Friday, July 8, 2011

Kids to Grownups

When I was a kid, the person with the most birthdays was the group leader. Everyone younger, especially relatives, had to follow the lead of the eldest. I never thought about how the hierarchy of age affects adults. When a person is no longer a kid, they are a grownup. All grownups are the same.

Growing up brings responsibilities like getting a job, paying bills and watching the news. It also brings freedom. No one tells a grownup what to eat, that it's time for bed or to finish chores before they can play.

Like most children, I figured that when a person became a grownup, aging stopped. The adults in our families, our parents, aunts and uncles looked like us, just taller and heavier. They were physically capable to play with us when they were not being busy or bossy. Grandparents were older, but in our limited experience, they had always been that way, slower and gray haired or maybe bald.

Kids are so busy growing themselves; they do not notice the changes aging brings to the adults in their lives. Sometime during high school, a kid may realize they have grown to be as tall as a parent is and maybe the parent does not stand as straight or move as fast as they remember from past years. I think that is when a teenager begins to mature into a grownup, when they realize that all living things age.

At some point, a person’s health may require that he or she get help to handle basic needs. To aid our older loved ones, we learn about Medicare benefits, geriatric health issues and long-term care facilities. Past conversations with friends centered on children and careers, now we exchange news about our parents’ health and tips we’ve gleaned from AARP.

Raise your hands, how many of you are involved in the health care of an older loved one? My siblings and I are now dealing with this stressful situation. Because of suffering multiple strokes, our Dad is enduring the end of his life in a care home. Mom is struggling with the loneliness of separation from the man she loved for 58 years.

Friends and family who have survived this rite of adulthood offered the following advice.

· Get help. Don’t try to do everything yourself.

· Scheduling time for yourself is necessary not selfish.

· Cherish all the moments, even the sad ones are better than no moments.

· Being together does not have to mean actively doing something; quietly sharing space can create a loving atmosphere.

· Express your emotions. Laughing and crying both release stress, but laughter does not require blowing your nose afterwards.

· No one gets bored hearing the words, “I love you.”

· Hugs and holding hands speak louder than words.

1 comment:

  1. Love the blog. This has to be one of my favorites.