Parenting a Parent

By Robin Gorman Newman

I feel like a contestant in The Dating Game television show… only I’m participating on behalf of my father. And, it’s not for a love match, but rather a live-in aide… two to be exact.

My mom passed away over ten years ago, and five years after that, we brought in a live-in aide for my father, though she’d really been largely more of a companion. It worked fine for some time, but in recent years, their chemistry has become challenging. Of late, I’ve grown certain that she and my father aren’t compatible long-term. He recently suffered two strokes and now that his needs are more acute, I’m working on bringing in two live-in aides to take shifts who I have greater confidence in in terms of managing my dad’s daily care.

It’s not easy witnessing the deterioration of a beloved parent. My dad was always so vibrant and social, and now, due to aphasia from the stroke, his communication ability is severely compromised and he has weakness on his right side. For the first time in many years, he looks like an old man. G-d bless him… he’s 93… and though he doesn’t look his age, he does look like he has aged. A stroke would knock the socks off anyone, and his recovery is a challenging one. Though he can be stubborn, for the most part he’s a trooper, plodding along with the OT, Speech and Physical Therapy. It’s not easy. There has been improvement, but he’s got a long way to go, and we don’t know how far he’ll get.

His situation brings to mind an endeavor I’m immensely proud to be a part of. I am Associate Producer of Motherhood Out Loud, a play by some of America’s most celebrated writers that had a successful Off-Broadway run recently at Primary Stages in NYC and is now poised to tour worldwide. Motherhood Out Loud shatters traditional notions about parenthood, unveils its inherent comedy and celebrates the deeply personal truths that span and unite generations. One of the pieces by David Cale entitled “Elizabeth,” touched me to the core from the first time I read the script… and even more so when it came to life on stage so poignantly by actor James Lecesne, who speaks the words of both the mother and son in the piece. I’d like to take the opportunity to share a portion of it with you, with the hope that if you find yourself parenting an elderly parent, you will know you’re not alone…

Read the rest of the article on The Huffington Post