Accepting that life has changed for your family may prove difficult in the face of chronic illness or the changing quality of life of your aging loved one. Aging takes a toll not only on the ones growing older but also on the family of the aging loved one. Seeing that mom or dad can’t travel like they used to or accepting that your loved one is having a hard time adjusting to new limitations can be challenging and sometimes it’s really sad.
A sense of hope and optimism is crucial to quality of life for you and your aging loved one. No one is ever too old to ‘dance in the rain’. Life is full of broken wings and shadowy sad moments, but there is sunlight and the smell of rain, tears and laughter; there is nothing more beautiful than hope in the face of bleakness. Happiness can lift you higher than anything that weighs you down.
Here are five guiding principles to assist you and your aging loved one in your dance with the uncertainty of aging and illness:
Practice integrity, intention, and purpose.
This requires that you pay close attention to your beliefs, thoughts, words, choices, and actions. What lends purpose and meaning to your life? What will lend purpose and meaning to your aging loved one’s life? Be honest in all aspects of your and their life. Seek to know who you are and who you ultimately want to be. Ask them who they are and how they came to be that. This is a moment that you can truly learn from the wisdom your aging loved one has developed over their lifetime. Be clear about what you most desire and take steps in the direction of your dreams .Know why you want this new reality. Does it add meaning to your life? What do you hope for your aging loved one’s life? What do they hope for their own lives?
See every challenging step as an occasion to stretch and develop new skills. Breathe deeply and rise to the occasion when presented with a challenge. This will help you and your aging loved one reduce stress and be hopeful. While there are necessary steps to be taken in each task and it’s important to remain true to what is essential, leave room for spontaneity.
Trust and practice serenity.
No matter how you practice or view a higher power, trust life to lead the way. Don’t be so committed to being in control of everything. It is impossible to control everything. Release your best work and then allow life to go as it will. Whatever is meant to happen, always will. Whatever is meant to be, will be no matter what we do. Do what is within your power and surrender the rest. Accept that you can control are your actions and thoughts, but little else.
Life is meant to be fun. Make time to laugh with your aging loved one and have fun with their companion caregiver too. Lighten up and release the need to be perfect. There is not anyone giving out trophies for most self-sacrificing and serious caregiver. Remember to laugh. Plans may not always work out. Don’t be rigid.
Today no matter what, make time to enjoy your time with you aging loved one.