A Mother’s Thoughts on the Struggle Between Adult Children and Their Aging Parents

Salon.com recently published a touching and illuminating article about Baby Boomers and their aging parents—about the transition from being the cared for child to the caregiving adult, and how Boomers are dealing with this new development. This is not the first article to be written on the subject, but this one is unique because it is written by one of the parents.

Author Lillian Rubin writes that she can see the growing worry in the eyes of her 63 year old daughter, “who wants me — her 87-year-old mother — to be in touch when I leave town, even if only for a few days or a week, who calls when she’s traveling though she never did before, whose anxiety announces itself over the phone lines when we haven’t talked for a while: ‘Are you OK?’ I tell her I’m fine, ask her to stop worrying. ‘It’s my turn to worry,’ she replies.”

Even when their parents still have the ability to care for themselves, Boomers can’t help but worry about what might be coming down the road, and when the shoe might drop. This worry can have the effect of putting adult children on edge, and making their parents feel smothered. Rubin writes movingly—and fairly—about the struggle on both sides of the divide. “Parents commonly resist their children’s attempts to intervene, but they are often in denial about the depth of their decline and can’t or won’t see what’s plain to others: They need help. If children back off from the conflict, their parents can fall through the cracks. If they don’t, parents are often resentful and difficult.”

Rubin admits that she has no easy answers, that every family will need to search for their own solution, but our firm knows that finding a solution is easier if you don’t have to do it alone. Having a solid estate plan is not going to solve all the problems between parents and their children, but having a good Advance Healthcare Directive and Financial Power of Attorney can certainly make both parent and child feel a little more secure. Furthermore, opening the lines of discussion for these two documents can clear the way for other important discussions down the road.

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