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HORIZON BLOG

Watching Dad Decline Is So Hard

 

Question

"Every time I go visit my father, he seems just a little bit worse than the last time. His responses are slower, he moves slower, he doesn’t participate like he once did, and more small observations.

It’s hard for me to watch this decline. I want to still think of him as the vibrant man I knew all my life, not the older half man I see today.

No matter what I do, I always leave my visits a little bit sad. Is there any way to make our time together less disappointing?"

 

Answer

You are witnessing the gradual decline of a parent, and mourning the loss of the image of your father that you hold in your memory.

From birth to death, our bodies are in a constant state of change. Many of us do what we can to fight it, with creams, workout routines, and maybe even procedures. We want our bodies to look like they are not aging, because we live in a society that glorifies the peak reproductive years of the human life span. Therefore, it’s no wonder why we struggle with aging and are bothered by the final years of life.

It might be helpful for you to refine your expectations regarding the time spent with your father. Change is normal, after all. Approach your time together as an opportunity to relive memories of things you did together previously, but also to create new memories that match his abilities now.

Sometimes we fail to seize the day when visiting our elderly. They may not be able to do what they once did, but they can do other things. They can be passengers in your car on a tour of the countryside, they can play cards, they can do crossword puzzles, they can color, they can tell stories, and so on.

The most important thing you can do is plan for an enjoyable activity on each visit. See your father as a person that can have fun. Do your best to let go of what he cannot do or be anymore. He has lived a life and there’s still some left. Focus on what he can do, celebrate what he has done, and feel blessed that you still have a father around to do that with. 

 

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