My parents used to live on Long Island, and they went to a Doctor in Brooklyn which was where my Dad worked. When they moved to New Jersey (twelve years ago), they continued to go to this Doctor, even though the drive was at least an hour. They would make a day of it…go to the Doctor and then meet up with friends in the neighborhood for dinner.

Of course, it’s twelve years later and they are twelve years older…

As of now, they are not supposed to drive long distances. Which means that the hourlong trip to the Doctor is a No Go.

Unless they ask my Husband and I to take them…

So on the condition that they seek out a general practitioner in their neighborhood, my Husband and I agreed to take them to the Doctor- which means us driving to NJ, getting them and driving back to the city, then driving back to NJ, then back to the city…

The car ride…

My Husband and I sat in the front. I had a tote bag with snacks, water, tissues, wipes and paper towels. You know, how you travel with kids. Of course, I should have brought car games and headphones, because they really did start to act like my sister and I used to do on long car rides…

He’s in my spot

She’s bothering me

I’m hungry

Why are we going this way

Are we there yet

They were bickering so much I thought in my head:

If you two don’t stop arguing and fidgeting I’m going to turn this car around and we will go homeNo Doctor for you

Because that is the lengths they had driven me to…

I really don’t like this reversal of roles…I’m already the parent to a daughter, and a dog, and a cat, and a husband….I don’t like this parenting of my parents. As I explained to someone else, I’m also doing a really bad job of parenting my parents…they don’t listen, they make poor decisions, and I am wont to leave them up to their own devices. I have yet to find a good way to have them listen to me and behave accordingly. It’s like they go out of their way to thwart me…

I’m presently trying tough love. I told them they have to get a primary who is near them. I said I will not drive them to their Brooklyn Doctor anymore. After the whole calling the police incident, I’ve considered putting a GPS device in my father. Seriously. I’m just trying to pay off a veterinarian to do it for me… I now have weekly conversations with their Doctor so that he is armed with information that they might not be willing to share, and I’m HOPING they get a new primary soon, even though I like the one they now have. And I read whatever articles I can so I can gain some perspective as to how to proceed.

And I wonder how to best prepare my daughter for when it’s her turn to parent me.

88 thoughts on “The Car Ride

  1. My role in life now is to try to be a good “old parent” to our kids, who are not much younger than you. They are in the lucky (of not so lucky?) positions of being 10 and 16 hour car rides away!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. My sister lives across the country, so I get all the fun…😆 you have to worry about your kids telling you that you need to move closer to them….

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Your second point is dead on. We live in a smallish town with an excellent quality of life and many longtime friends, most of whose kids moved to the big cities forever ago. Now most of those kids are encouraging just that (not ours, at least not yet). The response is that we have good support systems in our friends; we’ll move close to our kids when we need to move to an assisted-living residence. Then you get a built-in community and don’t have to rely entirely on your kids. It’s tough being that sandwich generation.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. OMG I am so glad it just not my parents. Last yr I went to visit and they insisted on driving me to the airport (if I can’t drive I sit in the back for safety reasons). They bickered the whole way. Dad drifting into the other lanes multiple times, plus my father refuses to have a radio on becuase he is “listening for mechanical issues with the car.” This has been going on for 50 yrs. I sit in the back, white nuckled… Fortuantely, all their doctor offices are within 10 min drive (it used to be 5 mins but traffic is so bad now). My sister wants them to move near her in “God’s country”) – hell no. Now I have to manage them and her…. I am going to become a hermit.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. One possible problem is that it is hard to ensure they get a good primary.Unless their friends have a good doc in the area they could go to.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I have nightmares every time you write about situations with your parents. I so don’t want to become them for my kids to deal with and I wonder if I will truly be aware enough to realize that I might be turning into “one of them”. I know I sound like a broken record every time I tell them to just put me somewhere, that I don’t want their lives to become about parenting me… That is not an expectation I have ever had for them.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. But kudos that you are actively thinking about this and not just ignoring the facts surrounding aging. I am grateful that I have 3 who have all been given various responsibilities- and the entire aging process will never be swept under the rug. I bring it up all the time rather they want to hear it or not!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I know I was woefully unprepared. Now we found out last week my mother in law has some issues. My husband is like the proverbial deer in headlights and I already see it’s going to be a challenge

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Life is funny isn’t it? If our parents live a long life then we are grateful for having them around. If they die early you miss them like crazy. It’s a no win situation. My mom passed at 76 from cancer. My dad was just shy of 90 when he fell and died from blood on the brain. One died too soon. The other was mentally sharp as a tack but his body gave out. Any way you look at it, the role reversal is something you can’t prepare for. OR avoid. It’s really difficult. I’m 73 now and due to my current health situation my son who lives locally takes me to my oncologist visits. I hate depending on him. And he is incredibly gracious with his time and how he rearranges his work schedule to accommodate my chemotherapy treatments. My oncologist is too far for me to drive and I’m too sick after chemo to drive back myself after treatment . I can’t switch doctors because mine is the absolute best in his field and likely why I’m still alive! So it’s a catch 22.

    I’ve been in your situation and now I’m suddenly in your parents’ situation too. It’s horrible having to depend on your children. Especially when my entire life I was in charge of everything and everyone else!
    As an adult “child” you are put into a different role. And that’s very challenging. But it is also miserable being the aging parent. And while I’m not as old as your folks, my health situation puts me in a precarious situation. I’m not used to needing help. I’m used to being the one in charge. So I can also sympathize with your folks.

    Please understand that your Parents aren’t used to giving up being in control. It’s embarrassing and demeaning in a way. And obviously adult children don’t like parenting their folks. I watched my parents do it with their folks, and now I’m starting to transition to being the aging parent. It sucks for everyone involved. I hate to give up control. And I also don’t like needing to ask for help. BUT, It’s the circle of life . But nobody likes it. My brother who lives in California was telling me how he was playing catch with his grandson and his daughter yelled out, “Don’t break Grandpa! You are pitching too hard.” He said it was weird to hear that. He realized at that moment he was old! Lol. It’s not easy getting old.

    LA, You are a wonderful daughter for taking on the responsibility of y our parents . Hugs sent to you. 😘❤️

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I try to do as much as possible without taking away their dignity, but it’s challenging. They’re no longer making rational decisions, but instead are acting in the moment. I hate worrying about them doing something stupid, but I just don’t trust their judgement. And now mother in law has issues that we realize must be dealt with now, and my husband is in a state of denial I guess. I guess we don’t want our parents to change, but as we know the only constant is change

      Liked by 1 person

      1. At least you are aware of their feelings and that is very important. But you are wise in how you are handling the situation. Your parents’ decision making skills will likely decrease the older they get. The problem is, in their head they still think they are younger. It’s likely that they can’t accurately judge their capabilities. My sister and I hired a housekeeper for my dad. He fired her. He was washing his kitchen floor when he fell. When we asked him WHY was he doing the floor himself he stubbornly stated that it didn’t make sense for us to pay for someone to clean his house when he could do it himself. Obviously, he was too old to do it himself. But, he wasn’t giving in to his age! Argh! That stubbornness was what caused his death. But, like the song says, “I did it my way!” And so he did.
        There is only so much one can do. To this day, my sister and I feel terrible. We never thought our dad would fire the housekeeper and decide to wash the floor himself. Now we realize we should have told her no matter what he says don’t leave! Sigh… you can’t always be prepared for everything your parents do. You just do your best.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Yeah it’s difficult to anticipate what people will do. My late husband’s mother kind of went nuts after her son died. She took her daughter off as power of attorney, broke her ties with me, as if I were to blame for him getting my pancreatic cancer, and stopped walking altogether. She wouldn’t let me help her at all. But my youngest son is her biological grandson. (My oldest son is from my first marriage). So…My youngest son set her up on a financial plan where everything is auto deducted. So she doesn’t worry about bills. Then she wanted to sell her condo and go to assisted living. My son was the only person she trusted. So he helped her find a place she liked and helped her sell her home. She finally made him POA. She got really weird as she aged. You can’t anticipate how people will behave as they lose it!

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Good question. If they were would they be handling them differently? Or are they afraid of the changes and dont know how to handle it and afraid to admit it?

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Those are two fantastic questions. I don’t know if current state-of-the-art medicine knows what the answer is to that. And I wonder if it’s better for them to be unaware and if the moments of awareness make it much worse?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I used to believe that it’s always better to know. Having read the story, I’m wondering: Would they be able to do something about it if they knew? Is every time they “re-know” simply another bout of pain?

        Liked by 1 person

      4. They see it, sort of…my father is willing to let go in some things, not others. My mother is just a control freak

        Like

  6. Life is hard! This is a stage I am not ready yet to handle! But….! Don’t be too hard on yourself, its all new, just like when we left the hospital for the first time with our babies. There is no rule book!
    (((Hugs))) and prayers as you navigate this road annnd… make sure to stock up on chocolate! You deserve chocolate and French fries! LOL!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I laugh but not really. I felt that way with my mom a few times. It was worse when she moved in with my sister because I didn’t agree with the way my sister was treating her. Hugs to you!

    Liked by 4 people

  8. It’s unfortunate your parents primary care doc hasn’t retired yet! Our doctors all quit during COVID and then we moved. Maybe you can make an appointment with them with a doctor near their home and drive them there the first time.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Maybe we are being paid back for when we gave them a rough time as teenagers! My parents are gone but we are dealing with this with my in-laws. We were called that they needed to pick up an important document at the doctor’s (they no longer drive). They could pick it up anytime as long as it was this week. (it was Thursday evening!) When hubby showed up the next day to take them, they were busy getting ready to buy groceries because they always buy groceries on Friday! You just can’t win. Of course, we are determined not to be like that when it is our turn.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. This is not really an issue in my life. I suppose I should be grateful. I don’t live near either parent, though I do try to visit Mom once in a while. Her memory care facility is excellent. Her sister lives nearby and recently moved into a senior residence and gave up her apartment. Totally for the best. She knows she is not so sharp anymore. Dad is his wife’s concern. I think you’re handling things as well as can be expected. Give yourself the grace to get fed up once in a while. It’s not an easy situation!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I’m sorry. It is such a difficult situation for you. They do need a doctor close to them. The current situation is not good for you or for them. Changing doctors is hard, but it is good you are putting your foot down. May God give you the patience and strength you need!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. No chance for them to move back to the city ? Or have you looked into a GP closer to them…gotta be stern with them. I can’t really relate because both of mine are gone, but you are doing quite alright with this challenge.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. If they move closer, we face the problem of every other doctor they use, and there are a bunch of them, are all in jersey

      Like

  13. I can’t even imagine how difficult this must be to live out role reversals. I haven’t been in that position, but it sounds incredibly hard to balance between doing what’s best for them with allowing them to still have some sense of control over their own lives. I feel for you!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I feel for you.
    I just have my mom..who is in a nursing home. She still has not accepted that she can live independently.
    It is funny that for so many of us, just as our children are leaving the nest, our parents need more assistance from us.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Parenting your parents will drive you bonkers. I don’t advise it. Just love them as much as you can, don’t do what you don’t want to and tell them you’ve got to go when craziness raises its head. Good luck to you all and God bless! Mona

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Sadly, this is so my life right now. Trying to find my parents doctors that are closer to our area, because it will be me and my sister that has to drive them. Also running thousands of errands every day, because my dad needs everything he requests within five minutes. It’s driving me nuts. Case in point, my dad calls me last night at 10:30 p.m. from his cell to tell me his landline doesn’t work. So what am I supposed to do at 10:30 p.m.? I’ve threatened to stop answering their calls if this continues. My sister is setting up a weekly grocery delivery to try to tame his whimsical requests. *sigh*

    Liked by 2 people

  17. I am smiling…. my mother is an advanced case of Dementia with a complex medical history.. completely immobile…bed ridden…yet she tries to have her own way….

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Lesley most eloquently put the case from the parental POV and voices the concerns many of us have as we age. My comment comes from the POV of the daughter of a parent whose behaviour has become not only one of needing more care, but of regressing to childhood in what she finds funny, I’m sorry to say that there may well be an element of your parents enjoying trying to rattle their calm & competent daughter. It’s juvenile, but children often are.

    My advice is to accept that they are not longer who they once were. You respecting their autonomy is lovely, but I hope you see that things will need to need. If there’s not a PoA in place, that’s urgent. I’d recommend you discuss things with your sister – even with her being a distance away so 1) so you don’t feel alone in decision making and 2) because your parents will complain to her about you, so it’s best to be on the same page. All the best LA.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Agreed, they do have to allow it. My father arranged them for himself & my mother while they were both still competent. They were set up by a lawyer and registered with the appropriate body, then put aside until they needed to be activated. My understanding is that once they’re no longer competent, it’s too late to get a PoA set up. Maybe talk to a Seniors lawyer?

        Liked by 1 person

  19. Based on personal experience, I have to advise against getting a different doctor. Even though the car ride is long, and complicated, it may be best to keep a doctor that they know and trust. I have a feeling that if you push them to do this change, they will find something wrong with every doctor you tried to set them up with. Be grateful that you have a doctor that you trust. You can communicate weekly successfully. That is rare.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In theory it would be wonderful to keep same doctor. But the reality is, I don’t own a car and renting a car where I live isn’t always easy or economical. Then, it’s 1 hour 15 minutes no traffic to get my parents, which in reality means I need to have 2 hours to get there, and two hours to get back to city, then wait at doctor who only has Appointments after I think it’s 1pm, the two hours back to take them home, them drive back to my house. It’s not practical to do long term on a monthly basis

      Like

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