As caregivers we’re aware that our aging parents face challenges to their independent lifestyles at every corner and we’re concerned about how these changes impact their emotions and ability to cope with diminished mobility and increased health concerns.
With that thought in mind, I was wandering through my memory and comparing my lifestyle to my parents’ lifestyle. My parents were born in the early 1930s and raised in the Texas Panhandle. Their early years were centered around surviving the Depression, the Dust Bowl, World War II sacrifices and rations, and polio.
My parents lived “off the grid” since their childhood homes offered no electricity, no central air conditioning or heat, no indoor plumbing, and an outdoor privy served as the single family toilet. At times the dust hung so heavy in the air that their beds were canopied in wet sheets so that they could breathe as they slept!
During World War II, unplanned trips such as attending out-of-town funerals became a community project as neighbors pooled truck and tractor tires to ensure that the grieving family had enough rationed tire rubber to make the long trip. Today, it’s amazing that some new-model cars do not include a spare because “flat tires are such an infrequent occurrence”!
I was born in the early 1960s in the same Panhandle county. My early years included access to good schools, a modern home with all the amenities, plentiful food and clothing, and vaccines that eradicated most childhood diseases.
Today, my parents’ grandchildren each carry a phone in their hip pocket, they tote a laptop computer with access to a world of information, and they consider their daily drive to high school in their own cars an absolute necessity.
Undoubtedly, our aging parents have seen a tremendous change in technology and lifestyles during their lives and it’s that ability to adapt and cope that helps them tackle aging like no other generation before them. Some of us have parents that are members of the Greatest Generation and some of us have parents that were the adoring baby brothers and sisters of the Greatest Generation. We have parents that are equipped to cope and adapt and have seen an incredibly fast-moving life. Let’s celebrate those successes with our families!
Consider talking about some of the innovations that your parents witnessed:
1. Access to some of the world’s leading medical facilities and research.
2. Plentiful food supplies and clean, well-stocked grocery stores.
3. Clean drinking water supplies.
4. Excellent highway systems.
5. Great communication systems.
6. Some of the world’s highest-rated and affordable public universities
8. Expansive public library systems.
9. Affordable homes.
10. Comfortable and affordable clothing.
Of course everyone doesn’t share the same experience and opinions vary on our advancements, but we have a common focus on change and what it may mean to us and our families.