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Aging is a family thing

Whether you want to acknowledge it or not aging is not just a personal thing, but also a family thing. Aging is a family thing because when we least expect it events occur for our parents and throw us into a caregiver roll. Adult children do not realize as their parents’ age their position in the family changes. They become caregivers for their own children and eventually for their parents. Seniors, it you have not experienced being the caregiver for your parents, you will become a caregiver, at the minimum on a short term basis. In addition, you become like the parent, as you visit your mother or father at the hospital and then at the rehabilitation center and hopefully able to communicate with the hospital team, arrange for home adaptations to assist your parents’ re-entry into their home, or your home.

You will become their advocate as you phone every government agency available, or services you located in the yellow pages, to a list the discharge person handed you to locate subsidized services to help your parents with cooking and bathing for at least a few weeks upon their return. You will become their accountant, taxi service, along with caregiver. You do this and still manage to work full time and take care of your family at home. This all happened in a flash and without warning.

The physical, mental and emotional changes your parents go through as they age affect the family. The whole family and this includes children, grandchildren, and spouses of children, and grandchildren. This is why we age as a family, and not just as an individual. Along with being thrown into the position of caregiver for your parents there are still issues of other family relationships, whether good or bad that are added into your role of caregiver. The relationships that adult siblings have are very diverse and even complicated. When you are thrown into the role of caring for your parents you are suddenly forced to realize how complicate these types of relationships are and you are forced to come together with your siblings to deal with your aging parents. Dealing with these relationships for many is major stress when caring for your parents.

The Improvements of life have changed the structure of multigenerational families, joint survivorship within and across generations has resulted in extended periods of support exchanges, and this includes caregiving and affective connections over the life span. In addition relationships in aging families have become more fluid and less predictable, as families are getting smaller with less or no children. In addition, the increased rate of divorced, remarriage, and stepfamily formation have altered the framework in which generations, spousal, and sibling relationships function. The implications of increased diversity in relationship structures for such realistic outcomes as support and caregiving to older family members are important concerns in the aging of family members, especially your parents. All families overtime are aging, and with this aging come the emotional complexity of relationships. All this happens quickly and without warning. For more information on the aging family visit the websites below.

http://www.careconversations.org/Files/The%20Dynamics%20of%20Aging%20Families%20-A%20Handbook%20for%20Adult%20Children%20interactive%20e.pdf

http://www.ericksonresource.com/aging-as-an-extended-family-system-we-do-not-age-in-isoloation-agingfamily/

http://howardgleckman.com/2014/05/informal-caregiving-free-caregiving-seriously/