What must it be like?

Share information, support and advice on all aspects of caring.
I normally avoid Christmas stuff for as long as possible but a friend shared the following on Facebook:
http://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/n ... ert-age-uk

I think they've done a great job at portraying the vulnerability of the elderly man. What must it be like to have been through so much and gradually see it all fall away, knowing the path ahead just leads to the end? I saw this look in my dad's eyes.
Those last few years his life was full of strangers - loads of health professionals, social care workers, etc. After years of stability and the closeness of his wife and family, his life was being replace with constant change - something that's not easy at any age. There were times when I could see that my big, strong Dad was a frail old man who was scared of this new life.
It was no wonder I became his 'rock'. I was the familiar face and the one who knew him best after Mum had passed away. I was the one he felt safe with. I could see that it upset him every time I had to go. Sometimes he accepted that I had my own life to get on with, other times were far more difficult for him...and consequently for me too.
Being my dad's carer was the hardest things I've ever done. Apart from dealing with the practical side of distance caring, the emotional side was truly heart wrenching as I saw Dad become more and more needy and as our roles reversed.
I hated the situation and wanted to magic it away, back to happier and easier times. But life isn't like that. I also learned so much from it, about Dad and about me. It made me think about my own situation and my own future in ways I wouldn't have imagined. I know it's changed me as a person.
Jx
Perfectly put Juggler, this sums up exactly how I felt when mum was approaching the end of her time on Earth. Thanks for sharing your thoughts x
Another thought provoking and sensitive Christmas advert from JL, it made me teary as it is close to home and very relevant in today's society.
There are those poor elderly people that are on their own every day including Christmas Day and your dad was very lucky to have you in his life. I like your point of view that he must have been very frightened to see how much his life had changed, how much he had lost and knowing that his future did not stretch ahead for him like for many of us who take that for granted. I see that it must be the same for my mum in a way, how much she relies on me and has always relied on me as my dad was never much of a husband or father and left her many years ago. I know my mum is frightened too and very depressed. It's a balancing act for me in being there for her yet still being able to enjoy my life and family which I feel I am losing and which drags me into despair sometimes.
Life is so cruel, getting old is no ones fault it just happens yet it strips away everything that person once had, what they once could do for themselves, how they contributed to their family and society leaving them feeling useless and often unwanted and alone.
Indeed. I saw the advert today too.

I think, with the elderly, their world shrinks. Once they could travel, live independently. As they become more frail, they can go less far until the world shrinks to a room, a sofa, a bed. This tends to happen gradually so the individual becomes less and less confident and more frightened as time goes by. It is therefore not surprising that the individual clings to their "life raft", us, the only bit of security that they know.

Add dementia to the mix and it is not only the physical world that shrinks but also the mental one. Even the activities that many of us might do if we were trapped in one room are lost to us. Also people stop visiting because conversation is impossible and perhaps because it reminds them of their own mortality.

I saw it with my own mum - the horror of that shrinking world made her anxious, clingy, needy and frustrated and yes, I bore the brunt. I do understand though how terrifying that must be and only wish I could have been a bit more understanding at the time.
Thanks for your thoughts too.

Fiona, you're so right, it's nobody's fault. Old age happens and it's going to happen more and more. And Anne, your image of a shrinking world is so right. It often comes with a sense of 'Why am I still here?', particularly when those you have loved have already gone ahead.

Yesterday I saw a younger woman walking alongside an elderly man who was using walking sticks. She had her arm through his to hold onto him, just like I used to do with Dad. It reminded me of something else. I used to get really frustrated with the slowness of everything in comparison with my own life. I knew that Dad couldn't adjust to my speed so I had to adjust to his. So, mentally when I was with him I told myself to slow down and stop racing. Things in other rooms were done at speed, but time with Dad was slow and gentle.