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28 Apr

Aging Parents: Am I doing the right thing??

My parents are 77 and 87 years old. My mother has moderate stage Alzheimer's disease. My father, though 10 years older, is generally in good shape.  They are currently in an Assisted Living Center where they have been sharing a room. As my mother's Alzheimer's has progressed, she is more disoriented, her balance is worse and she is experiencing some toileting issues.  The administrators at her current center are recommending that she move upstairs to the locked memory unit. There they can keep closer watch on her, provide activities geared towards her level and keep her from falling.  My dad is devastated. While they have offered for him to move to the unit with her, he has declined because it is too painful to see so many others in the final stages of the disease. He maintains that he watches over her and cares for her.  Our argument has been that we want him to stay healthy and not get sick and it's too much responsibility.  His retort-"What else do I have to do?  If I die from taking care of your mom, that's OK with me."

I watch my neighbor with Parkinson's. He is 77, wobbly on his feet but walks with quick determination. He loves to work in his yard. His kids- who live out of town want him to stop because they are afraid he will fall and hurt himself. As I watch him outside every day, I imagine that if he fell and hurt himself or even died doing yard work, he would die happy.

As an adult child, I want to do what's best for my parents.  I want to keep them safe and protect them from harm. As they age, their bodies sometimes take them back to a metaphorical childhood where they need to be "watched" by their own kids.  As I have experienced this process myself, I struggle with the balance of "watching my parents" to keep them safe while also allowing them the independence and right to have some control over their own life.  I worry that if I take too much control to keep them safe, I might rob them of their will to live.

There are no easy answers. It truly is a matter of balance but through this process I better understand how important it is to consider the wishes of the aging parent and respect their wishes as much as possible. I did this with my parents, moving them to another facility where they could live together and my dad could tolerate the other not as advanced patients in the memory wing. It certainly wasn't the easiest solution but it was a compromise that respected his wishes while assuring their safety.  Sometimes I hear of adult children who make arrangements for their parents solely to meet their own needs.  I hope that this message can help temper these types of decisions.

This and many other life transitions, can be discussed with the therapists at Wellspring Center.

24 Apr

How Can I Emotionally Handle Infertility?

This week I will be blogging about a topic that is very near and dear to my heart, infertility. This week, from April 20-27, marks National Infertility Awareness Week.  For those who are officially considered infertile and are going through the roller coaster journey, they are very aware every day that they are facing this experience.  For couples who are beginning to struggle or suspect that they may have difficulty conceiving, this may stir up some hard feelings or questions.  My hope for everyone is that this week can bring to light the resources, education, and support that exist for this journey.  Infertility is defined as not being able to conceive a child after twelve consecutive cycles of regular, unprotected sex.  In the United States between 10% and 15% of the population struggle with infertility and that number is growing.  Infertility, when a specific cause can be found, can be related to factors occurring in both males and females.  In fact, about 30% of couples’ infertility is male-related, 25% is female-related, and 35% is related to both partners having fertility complications.

Now that we have a few of the numbers, let’s talk a little about its emotional impact.  It’s pretty common knowledge that infertility incurs major financial costs with treatments or adoption coming with a price tag of several thousand dollars.  However, the emotional pain experienced by couples facing infertility is equivalent to that experienced by people facing cancer and chronic pain conditions.  It is a roller coaster of anticipation and devastation.  At some points you may have to live as though you have conceived, watching what you eat, drink, or do, only to follow it with the letdown of a negative pregnancy test.  This emotional pain can be difficult for some to handle and can potentially cause trouble in almost all aspects of your life.

You may want to talk to a therapist about fertility if any of the following apply:

  • You feel sad, depressed, worried, or anxious (including panic attacks) most of the time
  • You are having a hard time functioning at work or in everyday life
  • You and your partner aren’t on the same page about how to try to grow a family
  • You avoid events with family and friends  or being out in public because you find it too difficult
  • You are facing egg/sperm donation, surrogacy, and/or adoption
  • You are considering a childfree life


Infertility can be a difficult journey but you do not have to do it alone or without support.  Additionally, you do not have to wait until you feel completely overwhelmed to speak to a therapist about your journey.  A therapist can assist you in processing your feelings regarding infertility and developing healthy coping skills for the experience.  For further information I recommend the American Society of Reproductive Medicine and RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association.