Saturday, February 29, 2020

In working on the internal medicine ward at a local hospital, I realize how important strong relationships are between parents and children, especially at an older age.

My father always said that my mother kept my grandfather alive for many years. He passed away this year at age 94; and if not for her support and medical advocacy he would have died long before during one of his early hospitalizations.

I see patients who cannot be discharged because they don’t have a home to go to. These are patients who have children, but their children won’t take them in. They have no visitors. I wonder what kind of parents these patients were. Perhaps the kind of father who treated his kids the way they treat him.

Then I see a family of five adult children and every night one of them sleeps in the hospital to accompany their elderly parent. Each child is loyal and passionate about their parent’s care. “This is what my mother needs. I know her best.” Often these children fight with the doctors about the “best care’” for their parent. When I wonder what kind of mother this parent was to her children, I see my answer right in front of me.

Then there are patients who come in to the hospital after having fallen at home and have been unconscious for three days. They have no children. Those patients usually have the worst prognosis of all the hospitalized patients.

So, here are my tips for those who are contemplating having children or have children already.

#1 Have children. It is an investment in your future.

#2 Raise them in the same way you would want to be treated when you’re older—because at a certain point you become their “child.”

#3 In order to raise them well, invest in learning about parenting. Become introspective and critical about what you say and do within your broader goals for your children. Think about how your children will ultimately “parent” you.

Dr. Adena Blickstein is a resident in Internal Medicine at Westchester Medical Center. She plans to specialize in pediatric and reproductive psychiatry.

By Adena Blickstein

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