When the responsibility for my parents began, people would hear about my experiences and say: “There’s so much valuable information here. You ought to write a book.” Thank God I didn’t because as time passed, I learned how very much more there was to learn. This remains true even years later.
Eldercare is a growing concern as baby boomers and their parents come of age. Maybe a few of my experiences will help in your understanding and knowledge of this complex subject. My approach is simple: I’m just a guy who got the job of seeing to it that my parents’ later years were spent with an adequate quality of life and in good health without playing god.
I don’t bear this responsibility alone. My siblings are supportive in important ways, and are sources of encouragement during the sticky times. It was for them that I started writing the e-mails. Over time, a small handful of close family insiders were added to the address list.
The Subject Lines were creative and whimsical at first. Then, as frequency and import became the reality, I called the e-mails, “Parental update,” and “Medical update,” as the situation required. A bit later, each update name included a date code. The original intention was to communicate our folks’ goings-on so that we were each fully informed and on the same page. I’ve heard so often of sibling in-fighting and didn’t want any part of it. The best I could do was to ensure that no one felt left out.
The e-mails became many things over time. We three kids are flung to the far corners of the earth and have, with varying degrees of success, maintained our relationships. But the updates and the feedback brought us closer. This was unexpected and sweet.
I am old enough to be untrusting of my memory. The e-mails served to chronicle information and to be a reference. They became a resource for me later as the medical community became more reliant on me as the possessor of information not contained in clinical records. As legal responsibility set in, the e-mails became vehicles of accountability and transparency.
It is upon these e-mails that I base the thoughts in this blog today and looking backward. ElderBlog is the new “Parental update.” It affords me a vehicle for categorizing and tagging. In this way, the blog becomes more useful to me for research purposes. It also sets up opportunities for feedback, dialog and sharing toward a richer experience for us all.
But ElderBlog is more than just that. It’s the story of my perceptions and information-gathering about two people who used to be my parents. It’s a little bit about what they planned as they entered retirement, and a lot about what really happened.
I am my parents’ keeper now. Some would say that I have become their parent. And in the sense that I provide love and continuity among many professional caregivers, I’ll acknowledge that truth.
ElderBlog is presented in standard blog fashion: latest post first. I think it’s far more interesting reading if you reverse the order in which you read the posts. That way, the story builds and provides better context for the narrative to come. I would encourage you to subscribe to this blog so that you can be notified of new posts. Go to Subscribe to ElderBlog in the right-hand column of this page. Set up a user account (you don’t have to become a blogger), and you’re in!
I bring no professional credentials to this writing. These are merely the thoughts of a guy who got the job. The e-mails have been event-driven up to this point (January 2010) and blog entries may continue to be that as well. My sense is that topics will also emerge deserving of telling. Maybe ElderBlog is a research tool for the book to be someday written. Whether a book or a blog, it is my hope that something in these pages will be of help to you.
Update: To learn how my parents reacted to ElderBlog, go to Technologically-challenged – 031610.
Update: Mom took over the writing of ElderBlog in January of 2013.