QUESTION: Is there something wrong with this scenario? My 90-year-old mother died suddenly three months ago. I became the primary caregiver for my 93-year-old father at that time. Within the last three months, we cleaned out my mother’s possessions, sold the family home where we all grew up and my dad lived, downsized all of his possessions and then moved him to an assisted living facility. Throughout the whole process, my dad has been positive, grateful and looking to his future. We have dinner every night together and he seems to enjoy my company very much. He eats well, walks every day for exercise, attends church on Sunday and keeps in touch with people he cares about. He and my mother were together almost 70 years and had what I consider a beautiful marriage. Should I be worried that his world is going to cave in any minute?—Loretta
DEAR LORETTA: It isn’t often I receive such an interesting question! We never know what the future may bring, but given the information you’ve shared, I would say no, he isn’t going to cave in. It appears there will not be any big surprises or changes in your father’s behavior. If, at age 93, he is living a healthy, well-balanced life, I can only assess that he has held to that pattern throughout his adult life. Given that he and your mother shared many happy years, he is very fortunate to have much love, care and wonderful memories to draw on. Enjoy every moment with your father. These are sacred times for both of you.
Patricia Smith is a certified Compassion Fatigue Specialist with 20 years of training experience. As founder of the Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project© (www.compassionfatigue.org), the outreach division of Healthy Caregiving, LLC, she writes, speaks and facilities workshops nationwide in service of those who care for others. She has authored several books including To Weep for a Stranger: Compassion Fatigue in Caregiving, which is available at www.healthycaregiving.comor Amazon.com.