Today, a mother in Pennsylvania has to make a hard decision: Will she attend her son’s championship basketball game, or visit her aging father to make sure he has taken his meds?
A woman in Chicago comes home late from cleaning her mom’s house to find the children already in bed. She’ll spend another three hours catching up on work she brought home from the office before finally going to sleep with the hope of seeing her kids tomorrow.
A man in Florida wakes up and realizes that after a year of caring for his ailing father, he feels more like his aide than his son; in the afternoon, a California woman realizes she spends more time calling her parents and their doctors during the workday than she does talking to her co-workers.
These stories are happening every day in towns across the country.
They are stories that combine love and guilt, compassion and burnout, intimacy and distance. They are stories of people sandwiched by conflicting roles, stuck somewhere between daughter, caregiver and parent.
We see every day how care needs escalate quickly and without warning. Looking back on so many hours of running errands, doing chores, and helping Mom or Dad with daily needs, it becomes clear: The caregiver traded in the role of daughter or son for that of caregiver, and didn’t even know it.
A new ongoing topic in the Home Helpers blog
In the coming weeks, I will be exploring this issue in the Home Helpers blog — what’s happening in American families, why and when this role change begins, and how seniors are being empowered to live independently and to improve their quality of life and that of their loved ones.
Do you have friends or family members who are balancing the needs of an aging parent with those of their own children?
How do these problems affect the people around you?