I am the mother of four, grandmother of eight and great-grandmother of two. I love my family dearly but somehow have assumed a role I can't get out of - family babysitter. Please don't misunderstand me, I love the children dearly and know I am very fortunate, but I need some time for me. Is there any way I can free myself and not upset the family? -N.D.
You are fortunate to have a large family. However, you need time for your own enjoyment too. You didn't say in your letter if you had tried to tell your family that you need time for yourself, but you obviously realize you could have difficulty getting your message through to them. In any case, you need to deal with this issue immediately.
Lack of communication seems to be a stumbling block in most families and often creates problems. In large families, some counsellors observe that everybody talks but few hear what is said!
Senior Peer Counsellors are available (contact info. below) and could help you plan how to approach your family to enlighten them about your needs.
It is easy for seniors to give up their lives for family. Families are wonderful but everyone, at any age, needs a life. Many have given up personal liberty, enjoyment and entertainment for love of the family. This is time for you, too. Make the choice.
I am a retired 72-year-old widower in good health. I live in a nice retirement home, which was chosen by my sons after my wife passed away two years ago.
My problem is that my life seems to be over now, and I am too young for that. Everything here is arranged for me: meals, when to go to bed, when to get up. I'm not using my brain anymore. Entertainment and outings are arranged in my daily schedule and are great, as are the meals, but... You must think I'm an ungrateful complainer, but I simply must get my life back and be in charge while I am able. Can you help me? -P.O.
I would never consider you a complainer. You need to be in charge of your own life again.
Your sons likely had the best intentions when they placed you in the retirement home. The problem appears that you were not consulted in the planning. You are not alone in this situation.
From your letter, I assume you have not talked to your sons about your problem. Do so as soon as possible. It sounds like their main concern was your well-being when they arranged your present situation, so they will probably support your decision to live independently. Your doctor can confirm your state of health, if that is any worry to them.
Families are usually concerned when one parent dies and leaves a lonely spouse. In the rush to make life easier for the remaining parent, some decisions are made too hastily. There are cases where the person was never consulted until all the arrangements were made and transition to a new "home" was complete. Relatives with good intentions usually do this!
SENIOR LIVING VANCOUVER ISLAND - April 2009
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