When Roles Reverse

As children of aging parents, the thoughts of role reversal never crossed our minds. For years our parents have been available to help us when we called. They’ve served as babysitters, car repairmen, chief errand runners and in some cases, provided a secondary home for their own adult children, so the thoughts of role reversal haven’t entered the picture.

 When we as adult children come to a sense of reality that our parents are aging, it’s a harsh realization. Unfortunately many baby boomers have become so dependent on their aging parents to assist in their own lives, that giving up that help is difficult at best.

For example, baby boomer’s parents statistically have become the baby sitters for their grandchildren, and though this is a task they’ve enjoyed and one baby boomers have taken advantage of, there comes a time when it needs to cease.

Marylou was a divorced mom of three children and in order for her to provide for her children, her parents, Ed and Margaret opted to be the childcare providers. As Marylou’s kids grew and became parents, Ed and Margaret continued to care for their great grandchildren, until Margaret fell carrying her infant great grandchild through the house. Ed was in the garden for several hours and Margaret lay unconscious on the floor while the infant laid face down screaming.

This is reality and though Marylou’s daughter was upset her grandmother had fallen, she did not opt to seek childcare on a grander level.

Equally, Ed and Margaret were upset. Margaret’s hip was broken and their devotion to their grand daughter made it hard to discontinue as child care providers. It’s time for the roles to reverse.

Learning to look and recognize the signs of aging parents, then accepting the responsibility that the roles are reversing is important. Aging parents may not want to give up their current responsibilities and pushing them into something they aren’t ready for can be equally as detrimental. Therefore, start now recognizing the positions your elder parents might have.

Are they over age 70? And though they may be in good health, is age 70 a fair age for them to be managing the affairs of their children and grand children?  Pay attention to their size and frame build. Aging parents generally begin to thin, and their bones become more brittle. Look at their eating habits, and the amount of time they sleep. Then take note. Is it time to reverse the role and allow them the freedom to enjoy their golden years without risk of injury or frustration.

Talk with aging parents and find out what you can do to assist them. Begin to introduce the idea of having them “pampered” a bit as they grow older. Perhaps allow someone to come into their home once or twice a month to help clean or run errands. Introduce them to a company like Comfort Keepers and as their health begins to decline they’ll be more apt to accept outside help.

Be a considerate adult child. Return the love, attention and care that your parents have freely given to you through the years. Is it time to reverse the role?

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