How to cope with watching Dad (92) get older and older?

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He lives with us and has no interest in senior activities. TV all day. Very depressing. Sad to watch him be sad. He was real active but now uses a walker and can't do his former activities and has no Interest in new ones. He is lonely but won't go to senior center.

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Me too. Kind of scared. Hard to watch and think what I might face when I am old. I have a feeling i will enjoy being with lots of people and trying activities but we never know until we are there!
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Getting old is a huge challenge. I hope I'm up for it.
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Thank you, thank you, thank you all for your responses. I felt so alone but this was helpful. I will learn to deal with my own emotions related to his personal preferences and aging process. I will respect his desires. I will take your suggestions and try them all. I am grateful for your input!
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Jeanne put her finger on it, about the constant happiness. It IS sad, to see him be sad; but he has things to be sad about, no? If he was very active and energetic and is now not able to rush about as he used to do, he must be pretty fed up about that. And though you might think (and you might be right) that there are other things he can do, new friends he could make at the senior centre, activities he'd enjoy if he tried them, that prospect is perhaps not one that appeals to him. Not everybody likes lemonade, after all, or can be bothered with the hassle of making it.

Remind him about his options every so often - don't go on about the senior centre, just offer to take him now and again - reassure him with hugs and small attentions as frequently as you have time for, and let him be.

Hm. Do you know any other seniors who do go to the centre? Well enough to invite them round for coffee, maybe? If he knew somebody there he might warm to the idea.
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The only thing that is going to stop any of us from getting older and older is death. With a child, we delight in the day-by-day getting older, moving from one stage to another, eventual independence. Getting older is seen as positive. At the other end of life we know that getting older and older is bringing us closer to death, and that is not always a pleasant thought.

If you father had died at 78 (as is not at all uncommon for his generation) and especially if it was from an accident and not a lingering chronic illness (hit in the head with a ball on the golf course, for example) then you wouldn't have to watch him getting older and older. But you'd probably wish you could have, at least for a few more years.

Ours is the first generation where huge numbers of us are dealing with parents living into their nineties, and overall we don't quite know how to react to it, or handle it.

I suggest you try to give him some happy moments, like looking through an old scrapbook with him, or sharing memories. Maybe he'd like to tell you about what he is most proud of, or how he felt being a father for the first time. Not all day, every day, but sometimes. Try for happy moments. Don't except constant happiness.
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My mom, at 95, is happy to be in her little place most of the time. She reads and watches TV and works her puzzles. She tells me all of the time how happy she is. So it's all relative. Older folks don't need as much stimulation as we younger folks need.
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My Mom used to get very tired if she had too much activity and told me she enjoys the peace and quiet and being with her own thoughts. A friend of mine was constantly taking her mother everywhere, and when I ran into the mother in a store while the friend was in another department, her mother told me she is so tired, tired of being taken everywhere, and would rather be home with a cup of tea. Older people don't need or want the constant action we think they should be having, it seems. There needs to be a balance and they need time to reflect on their lives.
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We are watching the same decline, and it is very hard on the son or daughter. Try to remember that your dad's life isn't just about an outward awareness, social life, etc., but also an inner, soul-ward existence...he's got to process and come to terms with his life legacy, his own actions, and his emotions toward others. Sometimes I think that all the time spent staring out the window is a way of filtering thoughts, and readying for the end. Then he'll be ready for what I believe is next: total acceptance.
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That's so true. At that age, I would imagine that just resting and reflecting on life is a comfort. If a person in their 90's wants to go out and socialize that's one thing, but if he's content at home, I say let him be. If I were him, I wouldn't like to have to live up to someone else's expectation of what I should be doing.

Of course, maybe he's ill or depressed. How is his appetite and overall health? If all other things are well, I wouldn't worry about it. I might ask him if there was some reason he didn't want to go to the senior center or to church, or just for a ride. Maybe he has a reason. Maybe his hip hurts or he's just tired. If not, I would accept it and maybe buy him something that might amuse him at home, like magazines, dvds, etc. My mom likes to listen to audio of the Bible. What about a low maintenance pet like a goldfish?
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Keep this in mind above all else. Your dad feels safe, warm, loved. He's has no worries beyond his own little self...no money worries...no responsibilities to keep him awake at night. He's surrounded by people HE loves and trusts.

Try not to impute your own feelings into how he should live his life. He's living HIS old age. Some day, you may live yours. And they might not look all that different.

Good daughter! Or Good son!
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