In my work with Hospice, I have been searching for my underlying motives. I love to hear senior's stories of days gone by. Our parent's generation has had a different view point and different issues. At the turn of the previous century, the 1900's, the average age of death was 40 years. In this day and age, it is well into our seventies. This means that seniors are living longer, and living differently with aches and pains. Many have complications.
For family caregivers or volunteers, who feel pressure to achieve a particular standard of care, we often feel as if we are not making a difference.
I read some wise words, quoted by a Toronto Emergency nurse, Nightingale on Suffering, from writings of Florence Nightingale.
In watching diseases, both in private houses and in public hospitals, the thing which strikes the experienced observer most forcibly is this, that the symptoms or the sufferings generally considered to be inevitable and incidental to the disease are very often not symptoms of the disease at all, but of something quite different–of the want of fresh air, or of light, or of warmth, or of quiet, or of cleanliness, or of punctuality and care in the administration of diet, of each or of all of these. And this quite as much in private as in hospital nursing.
The reparative process which Nature has instituted and which we call disease, has been hindered by some want of knowledge or attention, in one or in all of these things, and pain, suffering, or interruption of the whole process sets in.
If a patient is cold, if a patient is feverish, if a patient is faint, if he is sick after taking food, if he has a bed-sore, it is generally the fault not of the disease, but of the nursing.
It is hard to understand all of this. I have seen some pretty vigorous seniors, and some very frail ones. Those who have their faculties seem blessed. They continue to be active, at least mentally, and this changes their quality of life.
We attended a Celebration of Life yesterday. I had mixed feelings, as my last contact with this man, was when I was emptying my late father's house, and in the middle of pregrieving my dad's passing.
Several people at this memorial told me they knew of my father. I don't remember them, and most were not at his funeral. It broke my heart.
Many in their 70s and 80s have not lived with parents who modeled living such a long life. Many lost parents due to illnesses, the war, addictions. It was my grandmother who lived to age 96. But, in the end, she was unhappy. Both my grandfathers died in their 40s, as well as my father-in-law from a work accident.
It occurred to me that what we adult children must do is to help honour a life well-lived. To appreciate the things that our parents have given us: courage, morals, values, hope, a foundation.
This may help failing parents with the passing of time.