Caregiving: Adult Children Intimidated by Parents Who Need Care

Aging parents view their adult children as just that – children. Many see a son or a daughter as the 16 year old they were many years ago. Suggestions offered by adult children relative to care for parents often fall on deaf ears. After all, since when does a child tell a parent what to do?

If this sounds familiar this video “Imperfect Family Relationships” may shed light on parent-child caregiving relationships. Other times the challenges of caregiving may relate to an incident or argument that occurred 40 years ago that has been swept under the rug but never really resolved. If you believe these issues are related only to your family you might be surprised.

The role of caregiver is complicated. How does one find the right mix of offering assistance and allowing a parent to do what they wish and possibly to fail? Oops! How similar is this concept to raising a child? You can offer suggestions but it’s likely your child will do what he or she will do. You can attempt to give advice but it’s likely your child may still choose the path of failure.

Caregiving for an older adult parent is role reversal. Many parents hate to consider the idea that their children may eventually have to step in to not only provide care but to provide suggestions or guidance. This isn’t the way life is supposed to be but in reality it is the way life often happens as we age.

It’s important to be considerate of older parents and family members. Why? Because we will one day be their age, facing the same challenges of aging: losing friends, living in a body fraught with health issues, losing our mind to dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. As my grandma would say, “it’s no good to get old.”

Aging and the idea of needing care is a scary thought. What if there is no one to care for us? What if we have become distanced from family? What if that last run-in with mom or dad closed the door on the possibility of the adult child providing care. The role of caregiving can be burdensome.

We already have a long list of projects and our aging parents need or demand care. Can we say no?  The answer believe it or not is YES, in a kind manner. There are options for loved ones to receive care that do not always involve adult children providing the care.

The challenge is whether parents have the financial resources to pay for care or if Medicaid or public assistance must be accessed to support the care. In a perfect world, conversations about care are held long before care is needed so that there are no financial surprises.

Many adult children are suddenly swept into care situations and realize that they will be the ones to pay for care, at least temporarily until other options may be implemented. It is never to early to broach the subject of needing care, especially if your parents are perfectly healthy today. It’s never to early to talk about costs of care and who will pay for care.

Avoiding surprises is important in caregiving situations. Many times parents refuse to not only talk about needing care but refuse to provide personal and financial information to children. Sometimes the refusal is warranted if children have been financially irresponsible and are thinking that getting their hands on their parent’s money will be a solution to their own problems.

Other times parents feel that their financial status is none of their children’s business–remember you are the 16 year old. If your parents won’t discuss money with you, offer a professional care advocate as the solution to the discussion. This allows the conversation to occur in confidence and allows your parents to have the caregiving discussion with an individual who has no family history.

Many times involving a professional is the solution, especially if aging parents refuse the advice of adult children caregivers. As a care advocate I’m able to hold conversations in a non-threatening manner and ask questions that many children would hesitate to ask or questions that children simply don’t know to ask due to a lack of caregiving experience.

The role of a family caregiver is constantly evolving as the care needs of a loved one change. What was possible six months ago may not be possible today and what is needed six months into the future may be significantly different from what is needed today.

By having discussions today, that may seem difficult, adult children are able to support aging parents care needs. The plan cannot always be for adult children to provide care. The plan may involve others like care advocates, in home care, or assisted living communities. While parents prefer that family provide care; this “dream” is not always possible or practical.

Caregiving: Adult Children Intimidated by Parents Who Need Care was last modified: July 29th, 2015 by Pamela Wilson

Pamela D. Wilson is widely respected as a leading expert in the caregiving industry. Since 2000, she has helped thousands of family members and professional caregivers traverse countless challenges common to healthcare and aging. In addition to authoring, The Caregiving Trap, Pamela was producer and host of the radio show, The Caring Generation. Pamela may be reached at 303-205-7877 and through her company website, The Care Navigator.

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