The more we invest ourselves in something–the more we put into something–the harder it is to let go. It’s also more difficult to see things objectively. But it’s often part of life as we try to help our parents age well.
While some think the aging father is doing just fine, thank you, (see last Saturday’s post https://helpparentsagewell.com/2010/07/03/help-my-father-is-going/), some have other thoughts. Some, but not all, can identify with and understand the devoted daughter’s inability to think objectively about the benefits a younger woman can bring to an aging father’s life.
One daughter explains how her older father was revitalized by his relationship with a much younger woman. From a rather “blah” aging widower, not wanting to leave his apartment unless necessary, he gained energy, loved “to be on the go.” He was like a new person according to this daughter. They had the much younger woman to thank.
A pragmatic child tells of a man in his 80s who lived (unmarried) six years with a woman young enough to be his daughter–until he began to have health issues common to those his age. The 50-something-year old woman still had many good years ahead and decided she didn’t want to be tied down. The man had six wonderful years with the younger woman, according to the pragmatic child, but ultimately the age difference got in the way. If the devoted daughter can just “wait it out,” this pragmatist suggests the possibility that the relationship will dissolve like the one just described.
- As we try to help aging parents it makes sense to ask ourselves “what’s the goal?” Parent’s needs/wants or adult child’s needs?
- A special and close relationship with a parent is priceless. Should the daughter keep that thought “front and center” and let everyone move forward?
- It’s the girlfriend’s age that’s bothers the daughter; yet a younger girlfriend can be a big help to an aging parent, AND no doubt take over some of the responsibility that would otherwise fall to the daughter (who in this case is a far-away living daughter).
- If there’s a concern about inheritance issues, assuming the aging parent is of sound mind, there’s nothing legally that can be done. However…
- When a child feels comfortable having a conversation about prenuptial agreements, and also understands about trusts that entitle a person to use the trust’s monies during her lifetime but revert to the family upon her death, that’s a possible conversation. But details should be checked with an attorney to be certain of facts before such a conversation takes place.
- Concern about a “gold-digger” or less-than-desirable “girlfriend?” One can always try Googling or–at the extreme–hire a private detective. That can ultimately help an aging parent when there are valid reasons for concern.
Although aging parents may do things that we are skeptical of, they are still our parents. We are still their children. If they are of sound mind, is it better to let go of efforts to control things that don’t endanger life and limb or their finances? Or should we direct that energy towards making them happy in our efforts to help our parents age well?
Changing weekly: “Of Current Interest” (right sidebar). Click links to timely information and research from top universities, plus some fun stuff–to help us help parents age well.