1. People & Relationships

When Children Become the Parents

By October 28, 2011

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It is never easy watching a parent become elderly or incapacitated to the point that as an adult, you have to step in and assume responsibility. I remember when my mother had to take away her father's driver's license because his Alzheimer's was progressing and he kept getting lost. The last time he drove, he was going to a family member's wedding and ended up lost on once familiar roads. He was hundreds of miles away and my mother had to go rescue him.

I'm sure my family's story is not that different from others who have had to take over their parents responsibilities and become caregivers. Some individuals have had the role suddenly thrust upon them, leaving them to wonder what they should do to properly care for their parents. Should they quit their job? Where did their parent keep all of their financial papers? What will people think of them if they put an ailing parent in a nursing home?

Being a caregiver of a disabled parent is different for everyone, and most people try to do their best for the people who cared for them as children. When the roles are reversed, it can be difficult to be assertive and perhaps take control of their parents' lives. They don't want to jeopardize their relationships with their parents, but sometimes they have no choice.

For those that have found themselves in this position, there may be difficulties at first, especially if a parent is resisting being cared for. There can be many legal issues as well, that are best addressed by a lawyer or legal counsel locally, as state and federal laws vary. There may also be financial considerations, such as how to pay for home health care, adult day care or nursing homes. If you have questions about how to handle the complexities of this situation, check with your county Social Services Agency or the National Council on Aging. These organizations can provide you with information on services available to caregivers in your area.

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