Do Adult Children Hinder Older Parents’ Aging as Well as Possible?

Teachers College, Columbia U. gave a luncheon today. Many older, retired educators were there along with others. The woman seated next to me was obviously older, well-dressed, and looked “alive and well.” She was 89, she told me. I never would have guessed it.

She had had a career and a husband; no children. And she had been the assistant to a very successful man. One of his children was disabled. When the man died, she became (was named) guardian for this disabled child.

I’m told the child lived to age 62, much longer than expected. There were funds for the child’s health and welfare that included a caregiver. Yet the macro responsibility was on this woman’s shoulders.

A discussion ensued about adult children’s role in their parents’ aging well. This led to questioning whether or not adult children were overprotective; did what was easier for them; and/or coerced aging parents to do what was necessary to live longer, as opposed to letting aging parents do as they pleased so that their last years–even if a few less–would be the way they wanted.

This reminded me of a friend, whose mother liked to drink but her new medication ruled out drinking alcoholic beverages. The strong-willed mother gave up the medication which resulted in problems; the adult child insisted she take the medication and give up her drinks.

Was it better for her to live longer and be miserable (which she was–as vocally as a strong-willed old woman could be!) or risk the problems associated with discontinuing the medication? The solution was a compromise: take the medication and have 1 drink a day. Was it followed exactly? Who knows. What we do know is that the old woman lived another 6 years–past 100…….. enjoying her drink and taking her medications….(as far as anyone knows).

Two additional examples (taken from my non-published book) highlight a granddaughter in Canada who relates her grandmother’s experience….and we meet Bob, who had no children. They are featured tomorrow as a continuation of this post and substitute for this coming Saturday’s post when I will be away.

Note: I leave for vacation June 21. Back July 3.  It’s most likely I’ll be unable to post as I will be in some remote areas without dependable Wi-Fi.  Help! Aging Parents should be up and running again on  July 7th.

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