Can you tell me what it means to “honour” a parent who has become increasingly cranky, feisty, disagreeable, and demanding as a result of Alzheimer’s disease and the ageing process? My mum was once a sweet, caring, and soft-spoken woman, but all that has changed dramatically over the past few years.
Answer: There’s no doubt about it — caring for an ageing loved one involves sacrifice and self-discipline, especially in situations like yours.
We should begin, then, by defining honour. Honour implies choosing to give great respect and care to our elders — not grudgingly, but from a principle of love and out of genuine concern for their needs. True honour is placing the highest value on our loved ones regardless of whether they deserve it or not.
Once you’ve made this choice, the key issue is knowing how to carry it out. The art of honouring a cranky elder is based on intuitive knowledge. That knowledge, in turn, is rooted in your love for and commitment to your mother. Out of that commitment and your day-to-day interactions with her will grow an awareness of practical ways you can serve her and care for her immediate needs. This might mean sharing your home and offering financial support. It could also involve seeking support services, filling out endless health insurance forms, providing transportation, and communicating with doctors.
Finally, remember that it’s never too late — or too soon — to love and honour your elders. As you seek to honour your mother, your love for her will grow and your relationship with her will be enriched.
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