Caring For My Own Parents

Anne's Parents, Billie and Jim

Anne’s Parents, Billie and Jim

My coaching has additional depth because I draw not only on my experience and training as a life coach, but also on empathy and wisdom gained through caring for my own parents.

The time I spent as a caretaker for my parents was one of the most difficult and rewarding periods of my life.  It was complicated, it was overwhelming, and I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.

When I moved my parents across the country to care for them, I had no idea where to find the resources I needed to help them in their transition to this new phase of their lives. I wrote an essay about this that was published in Newsweek. (Click here to read the article.)

Once my parents were settled into independent senior living, they were happy, but I soon learned that their needs changed frequently.   As their conditions changed, they needed more and more help with shopping, appointments, medication issues, and cleaning.  They were also quite resistant to accepting their limitations.  It was difficult to know the right thing to do.

When my father passed away suddenly a year and a half after moving here, it became apparent how extensively my mother had been relying on him and how her own mental and physical condition had worsened. She needed to move to assisted living.

I searched for a good facility for her, and again, she was as happy as could be while still grieving for my father.  Eventually, her needs changed again and she needed to move to a skilled nursing facility for another year until she passed away.

This summary doesn’t capture the bewilderment I often felt as I struggled to preserve my parents’ dignity and still keep them safe.  It doesn’t capture either my gratitude for being able to care for them or the grief of seeing their decline.  And it doesn’t begin to explain the difficulty of doing all this while working and living my own life.

It also doesn’t capture the joy of knowing that I did everything I could to give my parents a dignified and happy final stage to their lives.  There were moments that were very sweet and full of healing, both for my parents and myself.

My own experiences of caring for my parents help shape who I am as a coach and give me more insight into the loving and overwhelming job of caring for your parents.