I recently faced the massive task of closing an office and relocating my consulting and writing business to a much smaller location. There were stacks of books and files, office supplies, furniture, and intricate electronics to move and re-connect, and I kept my fingers crossed that computers and other electronics would network perfectly on the other end. Plus, everything had to be cleared out and put in its new place in two weeks.
It’s not like I have a handful of employees to work alongside me to get the job done. I am a one-woman operation. Then the lightbulb went off. Mom! She can help me bigtime. When I asked her, “Will you please help me?” her face lit up with joy. “Yes, I’d love to,” she responded.
Mom is ninety years old, and I did not see how that mattered. When I asked ask her to take on moving-related tasks, I fully expected her to take the responsibility to say, “No, I can’t handle that,” if and when the job was too much for her, or if she was having a “bad day” and could not work up the energy to help. If I needed her help, I kept asking. She kept responding with, “Yes” or “No.”
One of the most time-consuming tasks of the move was downsizing files. Tossing unwanted paperwork meant shredding mountains of documents. This was Mom’s favorite job. Together, Mom and I got the job done in time, and I would not have traded this time with her for anything in the world. Which leads me to the point of this blog – asking parents for their help.
Are you a son or daughter who assumes that caregiving is a one-way street? Do you believe that YOU are the only giver in your parent-child relationship? If your answer is yes, then you are standing in the way of creating joy – for you and your parent.
Can you imagine what it is like to not be wanted and needed? I can’t, and yet creating purpose is going to be a challenge for all of us as we approach old age. Look at your aging parents as an opportunity to help them create more meaning in their life, and doing so will give you insights on your process later on.
In my book, The Complete Eldercare Planner, you will find many tips on asking parents for help. In the meantime, here are a few more suggestions:
- Vacuum the carpet
- Make salads
- Assist with Internet research
- Say prayers
- Sew buttons
- Watch the cat or dog
- Sweep the porch
- Water plants
- Shred documents
- Collect mail
- Grocery shop
Think for a moment about the many different things you are doing right now that your Mom or Dad can easily help you with. Who knows? Accomplishing small tasks for you may be just what they parents need to boost feeling good about themselves.