My Thoughts on Caring for an Aging Parent

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by Lorie Eber

I’ve always been annoyed by the phrase “giving back.” I practiced law for 23 years, re-careered myself as an aging specialist, and then worked for non-profit for 6 years. People presumptively characterized my work for the non-profit as “giving back.” My response was that I had not “stolen” anything when I worked 12 hour days solving my clients’ legal problems. In fact, working for the nonprofit felt selfish; it made me feel good to help others.

My Dad would deny this, but he was a wonderful parent. His love compensated for my mother’s total disinterest in raising her five children.  Imagine going bra shopping with your Dad! I did. I have vivid memories of climbing onto the toe boxes of my Dad’s Florsheims when he returned from work and feeling loved. Led by my Dad, my siblings and I crunched fallen acorns under our feet while strolling through Georgetown munching on a “walk apple.” Dad even went to bat for me when the nuns complained that I exhibited a bad attitude in high school. He simply pointed out, in his curt fashion, that I was a straight “A” student. The nuns never called him in again. Finances were so tight that my Dad borrowed rent money from my younger brother, who saved every cent he ever laid eyes on. Of necessity, my Dad became an expert in the art of paying down one credit by borrowing on a dozen others.

I’ve cared for my Dad for over 10 years now. Since he’s been afflicted with vascular dementia, he’s become totally self-absorbed. Several years ago, when I told him I was going into the hospital for a hysterectomy, his response was “Who will care for me if you’re in the hospital?” On a gut level, this threw me for a loop, but then my logical brain kicked in and I reminded myself that the unfeeling response was the result of Dad’s brain disease.

It is undeniably difficult caring for a loved one with dementia. But, the reward for me is that it allows me to “give back.” And, even if my Dad lives to be 100, I’ll never be able to return all the love he’s given me.

About Lorie Eber, Educator & Public Speaker who talks about healthy aging and elder care issues, in her own words:

“Growing up in New York City, I believed I would conquer the world. When Perry Mason came along, he became my idol. From then on, a legal career became my passion; no babies for me.

I was successful as an attorney, too. I entered the ranks of partnership. I was entrusted with establishing and running the firm’s only branch office. But then that “been there, done that” feeling started creeping in.

Lorie and husband Wes

So. at age 49, I took early retirement …

incurring the undying envy of my partners saddled with hefty private school tuition payments. (You see, there are some upsides to not having kids!) I am now 8 years into recovery from an all-encompassing, workaholic, 23-year stint as a litigator in private practice.

But, what to do with the rest of my life? Retirement brought more soul searching and identity adjustment than I had counted on. And clearly my Type “A” personality did not lend itself to eating bonbons and watching soap operas while reclining comfortably on the couch.”

In 2004, I shed my conservative lawyerly ways, decided to be an entrepreneur and created my own public speaking business.”

Through Aging Beats the Alternative, Lorie offers workshops and “Lunch & Learn” sessions on many topics relating to healthy aging, elder care and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as giving keynote speeches at professional associations and conferences.

Visit her website at: http://www.agingbeatsthealternative.com/

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