This is the first in a series of short articles titled “The elephant in the room” (TEITR), which will highlight many facts and realities about the life of senior citizens in India that most of us tend to ignore/avoid.
This one is about your parents needing you.
If you are in your mid-forties and have parent(s) alive, sooner or later you are going to have to look after them, just they way they looked after you when you were a baby – literally.
This means that, one day, they may become incapable of looking after themselves and you will have to feed them, bathe them, clean them and keep them entertained and in good spirits and health.
With age and infirmity, some of the elderly get cranky and irritable. Age related illnesses such as Alzheimers and Parkinsons can add to the complications. You may have to keep a close watch on them, lest the wander away. You will need to identify a good Geriatrician. You will have to set aside time to take them to their Doctor on a regular basis and ensure they are taking all their medication on time and the vaccinations required (there are new vaccines in the market specially targeting older people including ones for pneumonia, typhoid, etc. Ask the Doctor). Be prepared for midnight emergency trips to the hospital.
Learn to identify their needs and wants. Do not expect them to tell you – sometimes, they may not know or may not wish to tell you. Relearn how to put on a diaper. If you have forgotten how to show your love and affection, relearn how to hug and kiss.
Old people are like babies. For the lucky among us, our parents will live long. Towards the end, they will need all the support, love and affection you can give. And only you can give it.
You don’t have to think about that and worry about it now. Just be prepared for when the time comes.