Priest Cares for Parents Joyfully

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Father Ferrnando Carranza, Rector of the Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Dallas, provides care for his elderly parents there in the Seminary. While he has a team of caregivers working 24/7, he is still ultimately the primary caregiver. The Seminarians also enjoy contributing to their care. Although caregiving and his work can be stressful, he says the Lord sustains him.

His 86 year old father, Daniel, has Parkinson’s disease and has had a stroke. His 87 year old mother, Maria, is in the last stage of Alzheimer’s disease. Despite Daniel’s medical condition, Father Carranza says that his father is at peace. Daniel’s mind is still working, and he is happy. Father says, “God has made Himself known to him, and peace is one of God’s gifts to him.” He continues, “It is amazing the love God has for us, especially for those who are suffering, and how God provides for us.” In many ways, he has never seen his father happier – he has the joy of a child and a heart as simple.

Even his mother with Alzheimer’s has moments of happiness, and Father treasure those times. While her illness causes her to be been confused, angry, and violent, she has moments of peace. At one point she stopped eating and sleeping and had a psychotic episode. After a trip to the Emergency Room, they were able to balance her medication. So now there is a new normal. While she doesn’t speak English, she loves to sing along during the Masses at the Seminary, and that is encouraging to Father.

While the doctors recommended Hospice several years ago, Father has let nature take its course. “It is amazing what love can do,” says Father. His deep faith brings him peace and gratitude.

What Helps:

  • His profound faith.
  • Having people to talk to and confide in.
  • His team of caregivers.

Scripture Verses

The chorus of the song “You are Mine” by David Haas seemed appropriate for this situation:

“Do not be afraid, I am with you. I have called you each by name. Come and follow Me. I will bring you home. I love you, and you are mine.” The following Bible verses fit with the theme of this song:

Isaiah 41:13 For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you.

Isaiah 43:1 Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

Jeremiah 29:10 Then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again.

Prayer

Dear Father, help us to appreciate how well You take care of us. Your peace and love surround us. Help us to appreciate the joys and blessings of old age as they are part of life and be grateful for the time we have with our loved ones.

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The Big Decision – Moving Aging Parents into a Home

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“It’s definitely time for a nursing home,” says Joan. She and her siblings have helped to care for their aging parents, who have been living in their own home forever. Both parents, George and Linda, have had numerous health problems including diabetes, pancreatitis, cancer, severe depression, and now dementia. Recently, they have had several falls when no one was there to help them up. George has been the primary caregiver for his beloved Linda, but his health is beginning to fail.

The siblings have had a plan to keep them together in a nursing home that their parents had chosen. However, after visiting the home recently, George became depressed and refused to leave their own home. “I’ll live and die at home,” he said.

The siblings enlisted the support of their gerontologist to help convince them that the time to move had come. However, George still refused. While they have Home Health, the majority of the care still falls on George. Unfortunately, the chosen nursing home now has a waiting list.

Joan and her siblings are at a loss. While they divide the tasks, they can’t be there all the time, and the frequent falls have them very concerned. Plus, they all agree that the isolation of living at home isn’t healthy. George and Linda watch television the entire day. The siblings agree that social interaction would be good for them, but they’re afraid that it will take something dramatic to change George’s mind.

Joan and her siblings agree that there may be some guilt about moving them, but their decision is based on what’s best for their parents at the present time. They know they can’t be there all the time, and they can’t prevent bad things from happening.

Joan has researched the topic and has read that often putting a parent in a nursing home is the most loving act that a child can do because it improves the quality of the parent’s life from medical and social perspectives.

What Has Helped:

  • A unified plan and frequent sibling communication.
  • Siblings dividing the help and working as a team.
  • Their gerontologist is a big support.

Scripture Verse

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, please intervene for us. Soften our father’s heart so that he comes to accept this situation, which is truly needed. Please help us to not feel guilty about this decision as it has been made out of love. Instead, help us to trust in You.

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Allegiance to Family

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Raul says the word “allegiance” is an important word to him as it is a pledge to care for family and each other. Raul is very grateful to his parents for teaching him the meaning of this word. It is part of his Hispanic heritage to care for aging parents, but for Raul it goes far beyond that. He truly wants to care for them just as they cared for him. The role of caregiver just comes naturally. He says, “Without a doubt, here I am.”

As is typically the case, all five children in his family have different views about their childhood. Raul’s story is overwhelmingly positive. He has tremendous admiration for his parents and the way they raised him. Whenever anything difficult came up, his Dad’s mantra was “no big deal – we can do it.”  His parents always put family first. His father worked hard, went to night school, and cared for the family while never complaining. Instead, his parents were always giving, and Raul learned all about gratitude from them.

Both parents have numerous health issues, and his father has dementia.  Currently, they are in their own home. Raul is there daily, and if there is an emergency, he drops everything to go and be with them. Raul is a kind and spiritual man, who blesses his parents each night just as they once blessed him as a child.

Raul says it is physically very demanding, and certain physical tasks can be demeaning for his parents, especially for his father. Raul says, “He cleaned me as a baby, and now I’m cleaning him as a man.” Of course it is stressful at times, but Raul doesn’t dwell on the negatives.

Raul and his wife also cared for his father-in-law in their home for 20 years. He is a “tried and true” caregiver. He credits his parents for teaching him that caring for elders is part of life, and he doesn’t regret or resent any of it. Instead, he is happy to do it.

What Has Helped:

  • Constant prayer.
  • Meditation.
  • His deep belief in family.

Scripture Verse

1Timothy 1:12 I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service.

Prayer

Father, thank You for giving me the desire, strength, and energy to care for my family. Help me to care for my parents as they cared for me. Let that be my pledge to You.

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