Caring for Aging Parents Brings Up Many Complex Issues

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“Elder care is a lot easier if you talk to your parents early on, plan way ahead, and get help from a big and growing network of resources.” ~Brian O’Reilly

happy seniorsThe question of care for aging parents brings up many complex issues. Some families are very close, loving and financially secure, which certainly makes things easier. The children want to take care of their parents and have the resources to do it. No one should feel guilty if they do not fall into that category, nor should they be judged. Many adult children were not loved and supported by their parents, and do not feel close to them. When, at forty or fifty years old they are faced with the prospect of possibly years of caring for a parent, they become overwhelmed. They should be able to make some guilt free choices.

Sometimes one sibling either chooses or is left with the full responsibility. Naturally that individual needs support. It seems fair enough to expect that the siblings could sit down and discuss the issue, and determine what resources exist among them. Those who cannot or prefer not to spend time, may be able to make a financial contribution to free up the caregiver. Each one should be allowed to freely state what he/she is willing and able to contribute.

If an adult child does not feel physically or emotionally up to providing direct care for a parent, this should be honored. Seniors’ homes and nursing homes are not always what the parent might want, but it might in some cases be best all around. There is a lot to be said for the elderly maintaining contact with their peer group. As much independence as possible for as long as possible is ideal for both the parent and the adult child.

Often it is the daughter who ends up taking responsibility for the parents. The need for care comes when her own children may be challenging, and she may be going through menopause. This is an incredibly heavy load. It is a time for everyone to put their heads together and decide what would be healthiest for all.

While caring for a parent can be a beautiful and healing experience, it should not be forced upon anyone. As parents, we should really give thought to these issues, and discuss them with our children long before we become unable to care for ourselves. We need to plan for our own care. It is not fair to expect or assume that our children will take care of us. That is a heavy burden to lay on them.

Most people now give thought to retirement planning from a financial perspective. That planning needs to be expanded to include future care, and yes, the many details connected with our inevitable death. Hard as it might be to face these issues, the end result is greater peace of mind for all.

Copyright © Gwen Randall-Young, All Rights Reserved. Contact us if you would like permission to reprint.

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