Sally Singer Horwatt, Ph.D.

Clinical Psychologist 

1800 Town Center Drive

Suite 216

Reston VA 20190-3238

Eldercare

Wednesday, October 06, 1999

This article is one of a series of radio spots 
prepared by Sally Singer Horwatt, Ph.D. for 
WAGE 1200 AM RADIO

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With more people living into their 90ís, many baby boomers are bearing the cost of caring for elderly parents, as well as paying for their childrenís education. In the typical household, itís the daughter or daughter-in-law who bears the lionís share of the extra work. Itís even more complicated today when most of those daughters have to juggle eldercare, childcare and work outside the home.

Although caring for oneís parents, under certain circumstances, can be very rewarding, it is the rare family that doesnít experience heavy strains adjusting to the new arrangement. First of all, many of the aged really do not want to live with their children. If Iíve spent most of my adult life active in my church and community in Grinnell, Iowa, why would I want to throw away familiarity, my identity and relationships to go move in with a daughter who lives in Mineral, Virginia? Doing so, in and of itself, represents a loss of status, of a civic identity, acknowledgement of decline and loss of an independent future. After a lifetime of indepence, you have to answer to someone else.

Unresolved issues from the past affect the daughter and son, as well. In order to handle your motherís demanding, critical nature did you have to move out of the state? WellÖ..youíve got another opportunity to learn to deal with it in the relationship, without running away. Saying, and meaning, "Mother, Iím doing the best I can." without hostility, without defensiveness is a sign of growth, not badness. This is a chance to get beyond the guilt thatís so easily stimulated in you and to become your own person.

This little, frail person with failing memory doesnít seem like such a scary person anymore. IT will no longer be necessary to run away. And you know what, that little, frail person is no longer be able to take care of you anymore either, even though they might be willing.

Coping with the aging parent is both an extra burden and an opportunityÖ.for both of you. But you cannot avoid the pain.

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