Frustrated at 60: Two Elders and Too Little Time

Dear WWED,

I am 60, female, and the main caregiver of my mother who is 88.  I love her, but she has become quite demanding as she’s gotten older.  She’s an elder, of course, and deserves my care.  But I’m becoming an elder, too, and I need more time to myself.  How can I make her and me happy at the same time?  She thinks I should be at her house, doing her bidding 24/7.

Frustrated at 60

My dear Frustrated,

First of all, know that you’re not alone.  As people live longer, their children get older, too.  And you are getting to the age where you want to begin to explore the best years of your life.  And why not? 

If your mother needs your help, she may be feeling a little helpless.  That probably frightens her.  Maybe it angers her.  You might feel the same way if you were in her shoes.  Tell your mother that needing help is sometimes hard.  Ask her what she fears most.  And tell her that being a caregiver is stressful for you, too.  Ask her how you can both work better together. 

She deserves respect.  And right now you are modeling behavior for your children and the young people around you, showing them how to care for an older human. Someday you’re going to be happy you’ve shown them how it’s done.  So the time you’re spending not only helps your mom, it will ultimately help you get the care and love you deserve when you’re in late old age.    

By all means, take some time for yourself.  Tell your mom you will be better able to care for her if you can take some time for you.  Remember, she loves you, too.  Now run a bath, pour a glass of wine, and break out the new magazine you just picked up at the drugstore.  Then, wrap yourself in your favorite robe, and watch an old movie.  Set your mom up with the same movie tonight, too.  You can discuss it and laugh over it tomorrow.  You are fortunate your mom is still with you.  And she’s so very lucky to have you.