The beautifully written piece in the The New York Times by Carol Mithers - “Suddenly, they’re all gone” makes a comparison that I’m uncomfortable with.  I’ve heard this said many times before and I do not agree with it.  The statement in the article is:

“Caring for the old is just like parenting an infant…”

Ms. Mithers does address the more obvious reason why this statement is not true when she mentions that we do not see an aging person getting better.  But what worries me most about this statement is that we overlook one of the most respectful and loving aspects of providing care to older people which is following their wishes.  Sure, babies can make a fuss and we try to follow their wishes to get them to stop crying or to go to sleep, but these really are our wishes as parents raising children in the way we feel is best.  In the case of older people, we should be caring for them in a way that reflects their wishes, as much as possible.  Although sometimes we cannot honour their wishes such as keeping them out of the hospital, but many wishes can be followed.  It is important to discuss these wishes in advance.  Not only will this respect the desires of the aging person but it also will give the carer(s) peace of mind, especially after the older person is gone, that the right things were done for those in their care.  And in my opinion, that is the best each of us can do!