Family Life

Inside Out 238: Emotions of Elder Care

I want our parents to be healthy forever. I want to know that they will always have advice when we’re making big decisions. I want to believe that they will always be autonomous, always responsible, always capable.

So it just doesn’t feel natural to be in charge of my in-laws’ care.

But it doesn’t seem to matter if it feels natural, because as the American population ages, more and more of us will be moving parents into our homes or into assisted living facilities down the road. We’ll be taking Mom and Dad to doctor’s appointments, reminding them of their children’s birthdays, and checking with the nursing staff for any behavior changes.

And even if I want to go back to debating the merits of the NIV and the KJV over supper or asking my father-in-law to tell us again about serving in both the Atlantic and the Pacific theaters of World War II, the fact is that, instead, we’re putting away my in-laws’ laundry and reminding them what day of the week it is.

Between the years of 2000 and 2030 the number of people over age 65 is expected to more than double, and unpaid family caregivers are expected to be the largest source of their long-term care. While I am not helping to care for my in-laws in our home, over 45 percent of Americans think it is a good idea for older people to share a home with their grown children.

Are we ready for the emotions that will come with parenting our parents? Are all those care-givers—potentially most of us---prepared for how we’ll feel when we come face-to-face with frailty and dependence in the same people who taught us how to balance both a bicycle and a checkbook?

If you are in the middle of this, know people in your church who are caring for their parents, or see a future that will include supervising the care of your elders--I invite you to listen for some insight from Inside Out guest Karen Swallow Prior. She’s the author of a recent her.meneutics blog post titled “Scared to Death of Death: Facing More Than Gramma’s Mortality.”

(Click here: http://blog.christianitytoday.com/women/2012/02/scared_to_death_of_death_facin_1.html

Prior is chair of the English and Modern Languages Department at Liberty University and the author of scholarly and popular articles. For a list of her her.meneutics blog posts, click here:  



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