United Church of God

Treasure Digest: Turning the Hearts...Caring for Your Elderly Parents, Part 3

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Treasure Digest

Turning the Hearts...Caring for Your Elderly Parents, Part 3

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Howard Clinebell Jr., in his book Growth Counseling for Mid-Years Couples, writes, "One of the most difficult experiences of mid-years couples is the reversal of roles, as aging parents become increasingly dependent on them—emotionally if not physically. Seeing the once-competent parents we love waste away and lose their ability to handle and enjoy life is an agonizing experience for everyone involved" (1977, page 65). The children of aged parents now must give care to their parents. They wonder how much they should give and worry about its effect on their own family situation. Often there is division in their immediate household over how much the son or daughter is going to be involved. The mate may feel too much time is being devoted to the in-laws. Resentment over having to face this may develop. There may also be strife among the siblings over who's not pulling their weight. No matter how much love the child has for the parents, he or she may feel bitter for being trapped. One may feel that he doesn't want to be very involved but harbor guilt pangs for not caring. As parents begin to face impaired senses, the child can find himself or herself getting irritable toward them. Emotional outbursts can occur against the aged parents. As the burden becomes heavier, the thought of "it might be better if they died" may enter. Such thoughts are often followed by self-condemnation. Realizing the parents need the family but not knowing how much and exactly what to do add to the dilemma of the child. Carroll Kennedy says, "Middle-aged children become increasingly supportive as their parents move into the later years of old age" (Human Development: The Adult Years and Aging, 1978, page 307). The time has come for children to give the love back to their parents (1 John 4:19 gives us this principle). Next time we'll explore some possible solutions.