How do grown-up children react from the point at which their elderly parent/s become frail? This is a question to which there are many answers and around which there can be much conflict.
It has to be borne in mind that the older grown-up the children are, the more life experience they will have had and, in many cases they will now be parents themselves. It is also essential to remember that each grown-up child will have a unique relationship with his/her parent/s and may well perceive the parents differently from their siblings.
One of the most interesting approaches that I have come across in relation to understanding grown-up children’s approaches to their elderly parents was that presented by Professor Kenneth Doka, the world renowned American writer on issues relating to death and dying.
Professor Doka introduced me to the different roles that people can play in a death and dying situation, using the DLR acronym:
D = Doers ~ those who get on with practical activities, including those relating to personal care;
L= Listeners ~ those who are excellent listeners and in whom the elderly parent/s may be most likely to confide;
R= Respite People ~ those whose strengths lie in organising the essential ‘time out’ from talking about illness/dying.
Professor Doka also spoke of the the X Category ~ those who are destructive and who should be avoided/removed from the situation.
Crucial to all this is that grown-up children recognise and bring out each other’s strengths rather than assuming that each perceives and can support the elderly parent/s identically.
To what extent does this approach resonate with you?