Elderly Parents – Still Young Inside

Elderly parents
Purple Loosestrife in my parents' garden - which is maintained beautifully by my green-fingered sister. I took this picture while the walls were being plastered inside the house this week. As I took pictures of this and other fading leaves, I had a strong sense of the renewal happening inside the house while the garden falls asleep to rest, ready for it's own renewal next spring.

 Elderly parents can take up a huge amount of time. This is not meant in a negative way, it is simply a fact that needs to be faced if you are someone who cares about people.

Having elderly parents myself means I need to devote time to their sense of well-being. Old age can sometimes bring frustrating disabilities that restrict activities once taken for granted.

Old age can sometimes bring frustrating disabilities that restrict activities once taken for… Click To Tweet

That bedroom needing a makeover can seem like an impossible dream when tired arms can no longer hold a paintbrush. Legs that once carried a busy, capable man are now so weak he struggles to get out of his chair. The bottom step of a step-ladder would be like climbing Everest to him.

There is an emotional price to be paid for the privilege of still having both parents in your own later years. Watching two young spirits struggle with the decline of their earthly bodies is painful at times. So I need to be philosophical and accept the circle of life for what it is. Now is not a time for worry, regret, anxiety or fear - for them or for us.  

There is an emotional price to be paid for the privilege of still having both parents in your own… Click To Tweet

Now is the time to celebrate the sun setting on the young couple who brought my sister and me into this world. We need to make their last years as golden as possible. Every day they have is a gift. They have both survived serious illnesses over the last 20 years and I am sure it was because they were strong for each other.

They still hold hands as they approach their 90s with shaky legs and strong spirits. Only 10 years ago, my father took my mother back to the wooden seat up on the hill where he proposed to her and gave her a ring. They still celebrate their engagement date even now.

Ageing people only look old on the outside. Inside, they are still young. There is no good reason why my parents' house should age with them and be a fading backdrop for the feelings of sadness, or maybe even resignation they sometimes seem to have. The cracked wall in the bedroom that worried my mother so much needed to be made new and smooth again. That old wallpaper needed ripping off so new life could be breathed into the room. I knew it would make them happy and give them hope for all the many days still to come

Life should be celebrated with brightness, colour, warmth and comfort at any age - yes even 87 and 89. Elderly parents need to be viewed as if they were 24 and just married. Am I really too busy to make things happen for them? The things they can no longer do for themselves and therefore seem impossible.

Am I really so busy that they can't ask me for what they need to make their lives feel better? No - my life can wait while I look, listen and act on the needs of two people who deserve my time the most. All it takes is a mind shift to get stuff done.

I can be relieved of my own busy concerns in the blink of an eye because I am in charge of how I prioritise my days. It is that simple. Are Pinterest/facebook/twitter or my work really more important than my elderly parents? Well...uh... no!

I can be relieved of my own busy concerns in the blink of an eye because I am in charge of how I… Click To Tweet

The first steps have been taken - the cracked wall is no more. This week, it was expertly fixed and plastered by a master plasterer and will soon be ready for some beautiful bright silky paint my mother has yet to choose. 

Meanwhile, as we wait for the plaster to dry, I need to brighten up the ceiling with some white silk paint. That will be fun - up a step ladder with no sense of balance. Perhaps a pole and roller will be more sensible.

Then there is carpet to choose before their new comfy king-size bed arrives. My mother is excited about the make-over. My father is too but he doesn't say so - I just know he is.

 We still have lots more to do because my elderly parents do have a future. They are not done with life and life is not done with them. However long or short, it is still a future and they deserve to spend it somewhere that has been made new and pretty.

My father worked hard his whole life long to give us a good home and my mother devoted her life to looking after us in that home. The least I can do is return like for like. If you have elderly parents and are able (physically, emotionally or financially) to drop everything to make them happy - even one day a week - do it. Nothing in the world is more important than life as it is now,  today, because it isn't coming back to give you a second chance.

Recently, I read a brilliant inspirational article that you can find by clicking here. It is called 'Just Do the Next Right Thing' and it is such a simple philosophy. It has certainly helped me to slow down and break everything down into a series of small, manageable steps that I know I can take with ease. 

I didn't think I had time to cope with everything I need to do - but I was wrong. Time is whatever we make it.

Nothing in the world is more important than life as it is now, today, because it isn't coming… Click To Tweet



  1. Ahh I love this. I wish so much that my 75 year old mom had been able to keep her condo instead of letting it foreclose and moving in with my brother… It would have been lovely to see her happy in her own space, and to have been able to help her maintain it. The situation now is not good for any of us….most of all her, I imagine.

    I love your beautiful picture of your parents.
    Stef recently posted…Nothing (Much) To ReportMy Profile

    1. Hi Stef – so good to see you here and thanks for the comment. Yes it is a real shame about your mum’s situation, it must be so hard for all of you to deal with. Just about to head over to your latest post – have been wondering how you are.

  2. This is beautiful Gilly! I can relate on so many levels. When my dad’s health was failing my sister and I took care of him. Watching was horrible some times as he would get so frustrated at not being the man he once was. But as you say, time is what we make of it and the time we had before his passing I would not change one bit!! Thanks for the gentle reminder of all we are, all we can be, and all we need to be!
    Robyn recently posted…Getting to Know NicoleMy Profile

    1. Thank you Robyn, really appreciate your visit and thoughts. I wish I had time to keep this updated re progress and hiccups! The last 24 hours has been a nightmare which I am sure we will laugh about in time!

  3. A beautiful post. We get so caught up in life that we forget that our parents are getting older and wont be around forever. Having lost my 3 years ago I now pay more attention to my gran and mum. Making memories and taking lots of pics. x
    Verushka recently posted…Yudhika’s MemoirsMy Profile

    1. Sorry to hear you lost your (dad?). You won’t regret the time and attention you give your mum and Gran I am sure. Pictures are so precious to have. I drive everyone nuts with my video camera! Thanks so much for visiting and commenting. x

    1. Thank you Anna, your visit and comments are very much appreciated. We are just at the end of around day four of the project and have achieved a huge amount with the small steps approach. I really have Corinne to thank for the reminder with her ‘just do the next right thing’ post! It really stirred me into action.

  4. Although you quoted my post, it is your post that speaks so loudly to me, Gilly. My Dad turned 90 two days ago and Mom is 87. I’ll be honest and say they frustrate me with their independence – and would never gracefully accept a makeover like your parents have. I attempt to do somethings for them regularly, but they fight me at every stage. I must learn not to get frustrated and upset. Thank you for writing this. I will be reflecting on your words.
    Corinne Rodrigues recently posted…Drift To CreateMy Profile

    1. Hi there Corinne, to be honest, it isn’t that long ago that my parents would have been the same. My dad is still a bit like it but my mum welcomes the help. It must be so hard for a man who as been the DIY backbone of the house to accept the limitations that old age can bring. My dad is always quite quiet when we are helping to bring about something my mum wants done but when we are done (last year, it was a new kitchen), my dad is always really happy with the results. I think change, even for the better, is hard for some people (like my dad!!!!) but I really want my mum to have everything she wants while she can. Congrats on your dad’s 90th – that’s a milestone we will be celebrating June I hope.

  5. I went through a brain surgery last April to have a tumor removed. It was really a confronting experience. I came from being a gym beast to barely being able to walk around our small apartment. Everything exhausted me.
    Such situations forced me into a change of perspective of what life is and how we should live it. So many things that I ignored started to make sense to me.
    We only have now and we shouldn’t take this blessing for granted.
    Have a fabulous weekend, Gilly.
    Debbie recently posted…How To Hack Your Lifestyle For Mindfulness With ExerciseMy Profile

    1. That kind of experience is a real life leveller and must have been horrendous. I hope you are much better now and continue to be so. Am just off to read your post on mindfulness as I am hugely interested in the concept since my 5 year old grandson told me they learn about it at school. It really works but takes well, mindfulness, to keep it going – lots of gentle practice!

  6. I love your use of purple loosestrife to illustrate this. It’s a beautiful plant and has found a way to protect itself from too much sun by turning its green leaves purple. That makes me think of how your parents have protected each other, and how you’ve helped them, through the aging process, how their bodies have changed but their spirits remain young.
    Christopher recently posted…Lost And Found In Fog.My Profile

    1. Hello Christopher – thanks for beng here and commenting – you know lots of interesting facts about nature – love that! I didn’t know that about the leaves turning purple – I thought it as just an Autumn thing. My sister is the gardening expert – I just photograph the results!

  7. I love this: “They still hold hands as they approach their 90s with shaky legs and strong spirits. Only 10 years ago, my father took my mother back to the wooden seat up on the hill where he proposed to her and gave her a ring. They still celebrate their engagement date even now.” Thank you so much for sharing this compassionate post in #ThePinterestGame! Good luck!
    Wendy, co-host
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  8. Lovely post. Brought back memories of the years spent helping my mother and father-in-law who both had Alzheimer’s Disease at the same time. Very very difficult – but you are so very correct that as adult children – we need to be kind, respectful, and loving to aging parents. They brought us into the world! I see too many people in the U.S. ignore and treat their elderly parents with disrespect. They chide them for losing their hearing and being slower than they use to be. I spent a month in Indonesia many years ago and repeatedly witnessed the high regard elderly people were given. The elderly were treated respectfully and always asked to come to the front of the lines, so they did not have to wait so long. I was very impressed. Again – a lovely, heart-warming article 🙂
    Jill recently posted…QUOTES: THE BUSINESS OF LIFEMy Profile

    1. Thanks Jill – I appreciate your visit and comments. Saddened though to hear of the poor treatment some elderly parents get – it shouldn’t be that way. I love what you said about your experience in Indonesia – that’s more how things were here in days gone by. It seems crazy that we now often sideline the people who know so much about life as if they are nothing more than a nuisance. Thanks again for being here.

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