December 5th, 2016
As a Baby Boomer, perhaps you’ve shared in the gratifying experience of raising kids. But you may also be one of the 10 million boomers caring for an aging parent. Being a parent and a caregiver at the same time can certainly be taxing, but if you are able to identify and appreciate the differences between caring for children and care-giving for aging parents, then the latter experience can also be a gratifying one.
Topping the list of differences are the complex emotions that come into play. Whereas raising a child is filled with moments of joy and satisfaction, caring for parents is often accompanied by feelings of sadness and even denial. The key here is to talk about how you’re feeling with family and friends, or with a qualified therapist.
Another issue to deal with in the dual role of parent and caregiver is authority. As a boomer, your parents have pretty much told you what to do your entire life. But in the elder care situation, it’s the child who is telling the parent what to do – which is why having power of attorney and other legal documents in place in advance can help to avoid unneeded disputes and aggravation.
Of course, an aging parent who resents the role reversal may fight you “tooth and nail” when it comes to decision making – and it can be hard to argue with a parent who has parented you since birth. If discussions become unmanageable, it may be of benefit to bring in an objective third party, such as a geriatric care manager, who can keep everyone’s best interests in mind without bias.