The Life Transition Blog

Aging Parent Issues: I’ll NEVER Go To A Retirement Home

The aging parent who asserts that they will never be "sent" to a retirement home is the parent who fears being abandoned in his or her old age. He usually has expectations that one of his children will take him in. She might expect that she will be able to manage in her own home forever. This parent has rarely purchased long term care insurance and often hasn't thought much about what will happen when he can no longer take care of himself. Most adult children will agree that worrying about this is hugely stressful for them once they start to think about it.

But is it possible that the parent who is determined never to consider an alternative living situation has actually cheated himself out of some meaningful experiences with his kids? Might this mother and grandmother one day regret that while she is living under the same roof with one of her kids that they are never really engaged with her on an emotional level because they spend so much time attending to her physical needs? Is there a positive benefit that comes from adult children caring for their parents from a bit of a distance? While your parent has not been physically abandoned, might their fear of being pushed aside have created a situation where they are emotionally invisible?

Like so much else in life, it's all about balance. Perhaps the ideal situation is when your parents have put the pieces in place so that even if they live in your home, you can afford some caregiving help. Or maybe if they understood that moving to a retirement community doesn't mean that they will be abandoned will make it easier for them to consider that option. When their health or memory begin to fail, the time you spend with your Mom or Dad can be about keeping them company, making them comfortable, and allowing them to participate to the extent that they can in your life and your children's lives. Think about it. Don't let your parents do such a good job of making you feel guilty if you consider an alternative living situation that you forget that they need you on an emotional level.
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