Feb 032009

Yesterday we drove to Apache Junction to take Terry’s mom and dad, Pete and Bess Weber, to dinner for their birthdays. Her mom’s birthday was yesterday, and her dad’s will be on the 11th during our Gypsy Gathering rally.

My in-laws amaze me. Bess is a beautiful lady who just turned 77, and most people think she is Terry’s sister when they first meet her. Her dad will be 79, and he still walks several miles a day, does 100 pushups every morning, and can outwork any two men half his age. I guess that’s the effect of good living and healthy eating. Based upon their example, we should have had my memorial service last month. 

We had a very nice dinner at Olive Garden, then went back to their house to visit for a while before we began the one hour drive back to Casa Grande. My own parents have been gone for many years, and while our traveling lifestyle keeps us on the road much of the time, whenever we are nearby, I encourage Miss Terry to spend as much time with her parents as possible. Time with the people we love is the one commodity we cannot buy more of.

We are fortunate in that Terry’s parents are in such excellent health, and happily maintain their independent lifestyle. But, concern about the needs of aging parents is a common problem for many fulltime RVers.

We know fulltimers who have had to stop traveling all together, or curtail their travel plans to help care for aging parents, and others whose concerns for their parents’ welfare keep them from fully enjoying their time on the road. Some fulltimers have found ways to be there when needed, and still enjoy traveling.

Sometimes there are siblings who live nearby who maintain close contact with the parents, and the RVers return for regular visits, giving their brothers and sisters a respite by taking their place for a while.

In some families, this has worked out well, while in others, those family members who carry the bulk of the load of caring for their parents feel (and express) their resentment. They feel that they are being the dutiful son or daughter, while their traveling relatives have abandoned their responsibilities for a free and easy gypsy lifestyle. This can lead to a burden of guilt that the largest motorhome could not carry.

Sometimes there are no siblings or other relatives living near the parents. This can present very real challenges. As parents age, they may not recognize that they are beginning to need help, or they may hide the fact that their driving skills or other abilities are beginning to diminish because they want to maintain their independence. If there is no one available to observe what is happening on a day to day basis, and to report that information to the RVers, they may have to plan more frequent visits to evaluate the situation themselves.

We also know RVers whose parents are healthy enough to want to sample the lifestyle their children enjoy on the road, and they occasionally take them on short trips with them. We know of at least two women whose mothers fulltime with them, sharing their adventures on the road.

Some RVers have had to make the difficult choice to move their elderly parents into assisted living situations. For some families, this is an easy transition and the parents are grateful for the regular help from the staff, and the social opportunities this new lifestyle provides them. Other parents strongly oppose such a move, seeing it as a loss of their independence.

The needs of aging parents are something that all families eventually face, and should discuss before the need to make important decisions arise. There are no easy answers, nor is there a uniform solution that works for every family. But open, honest communication is the first step toward dealing with what can often be a difficult situation.      

Thought For The Day Either you control your attitude, or it controls you. 

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  2 Responses to “Fulltimers And Aging Parents”

  1. Good blog, Nick. My wife has an aging Mom in another state. My wife does what she can when weather permits her to make the drive, but some of her siblings are resentful that they provide most of the care.

  2. I can relate to your article on aging parents. Thank you for your thoughts.
    My husband and I have been fulltimers for 6 years, enjoying travels to Alaska with my parents during our first year on the road. We are now in Houston, TX, (Traders Village), not traveling, to care for my parents (age 85); my father with Parkinson’s, my mother may soon need heart surgery. Though I miss the road adventures, I am grateful to have this gift of time with my parents.. They feel guilty that they have curtailed our travels, we continually reassure them we are not leaving and it is OK! They are the “greatest generation”!

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