Life Is A Learning Experience: What We Learn About Ourselves As We See Our Parents Age

It's a natural part of life, we all experience various forms of health problems, it's just a part of life and aging, but when we are looking at the older generations in our families, specifically our parents and succumbing to health problems, from physical ailments to age-related cognitive decline, we can find that their difficulties in doing everyday things affect us profoundly. 

There may come a time that we have to do more for our parents, and this so-called “Sandwich Generation”, people who are looking after parents, but also have children to look after, is becoming far more widespread. And while it's a folly of youth that we look upon people getting old it can also be somewhat of a nuisance. This is not to say that its the right attitude to have. Instead, we can look to our elders, not just so we can help them the way they want to be helped, but we can learn so much about ourselves at the same time…

Putting So Much Weight On The Pointless

It's a thing we learn gradually as we get older anyway, we look back and think “why was I so hung up on something that's completely irrelevant in life?” And as we get older, we develop more of an appreciation for the finer things in life and immediately regret so many of the thoughts, feelings, and attitudes we had as a coltish youth. But as we get older, we tend to find that, year after year, there is so much that really isn't all that important. Material items being a great example. But it's when we're looking after our elders, or we see them struggle to do things that come so easily to us that we can realize that we've had our perspectives misaligned. Learning new things from our parents can be a very common by-product of looking after them, and we may feel regrets that we didn't listen to them more. Yes, it's one of those cliches in life, that we don't open up to our family, or we only have regrets about not being closer to them until they've passed away, but we can take the initiative and extend the olive branch now.

Respecting The Needs Of Everyone Around Us

There comes a point that we are so self-absorbed we don't see the wood for the trees. We're so focused on our own stupid little needs, when our parents need us, it can take quite a period of adjustment. This is something that can be thrown back in our face, especially when we have siblings. When the time comes to discuss with our siblings about possibly putting our parents in a home, long time resentments can be dug up, especially if one of your siblings feels they did more for your parents than you did. And when it comes to the decisions on the type of home they go to, there may very well be some siblings that purely think in terms of money, but we all know, deep down, this isn't really important. 

Surely, when it comes to treating anyone with respect, we have to look to our elders and respect their wishes. We see so much on television about how mistreated elderly residents are in care homes, and surely we wouldn't want to be treated this way if we were infirm? Luckily, in so many retirement communities, there are qualified skilled nursing specialists that can make these seemingly alien environments feel like home. And what we can learn, by watching our parents go through this is, not just what we'd want when we get to their age, but also, maybe it's time we don't go through life being so self-absorbed? We can see it when other people are being so selfish, but we can't address it within ourselves. It's seeing someone you care about going through the aging process that could really make it hit home.

Reconnecting With Who We Really Are

We can feel that desire, for so long, to escape where we come from, to shed our emotional makeup, and while we can all change and grow, we can lose track of who we actually are. This is something that can be connected to discovering what's so important in life. You may have friends who are posers, always looking over your shoulder when you are engaging them in conversation and as we go through life, we flit from fair-weather friend to fair-weather friend. And the penny drops, maybe we're not who we think we should be! Now, as grandiose as this sounds, we all have a purpose in life, and we can spend so long going away from this because we think that life should take us down a certain direction, when the real answer is amazingly simple. You look at your parents getting older, and struggling, and, God forbid, the day they pass away, doesn't just overwhelm you with grief, but it actually brings everything into focus. Heading to the funeral, and greeting friends and family members that you haven't seen for years can make you reconnect, not just with your past, but make you realize what is important. In life, we can put a lot of window dressing on our emotions. Something as simple as social media is a distraction, and when we look at a loved one deteriorating before our very eyes, not only would we want the best for them, but it makes us realize if we're doing everything we can in life to get the best for us.

We can feel that we are busy in our jobs, social functions, and so many other tidbits in life to be able to care for our parents more. But we need to bring everything back into focus. And yes, life is incredibly busy, but when you think about what truly is important in life, when you strip everything away, it boils down to a handful of things. And if we go through life with that chasm between us and our parents, seeing them deteriorate can force us to reconnect with them, but also ourselves. Life is a learning experience after all!

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