Caregiving: View from the 40s
Kaaren Bloom, 42, is the daughter of aging expert and author Gail Goeller, of Spokane. Bloom provided this insight on how some grown children in her generation feel about caring for their aging boomer parents.
“I truly think most children of aging parents want to help their parents when they start to decline, but for many of my peers, the circumstances in which they’ve built their lives – in a different city in which their parents live, waiting later to have children, building careers – is not conducive to this.
“I have the not-so-unique experience of being a native of Spokane who succumbed to the boomerang effect of growing up here, swearing off this town and leaving, then happily returning 15 years later with my family, partly to take advantage of the support from my parents – and vice versa.
“The fact I am in the same town may be the most significant factor in my ability to show up and help my parents when things got really difficult with my dad, and with my mom caring for dad. (Bloom’s father, John Goeller, died of early-onset Alzheimer’s last year.)
“Also, my own family was not in a place of needing me as intensely as when my daughter was quite young. My husband and daughter were part of the support.
“The logistics of helping gets really complicated when you don’t reside in the same town, when raising children, and/or not having ample money and time to go to a parent in decline and create an acceptable situation to leave them in.
“I have a lot of gratitude that I could be present for my folks when they needed me. I’d like to think my generation of elder caregivers are doing the same, in the best way they are able.
“Does my generation still feel guilt? Yes, there’s a lot of guilt. It’s incredibly hard to reconcile the responsibilities of your own life while simultaneously tending to the needs of an aging parent. You may hear how frustrating it is to be pulled in so many directions when a parent is in need, but underlying the frustration is the guilt of not being able to provide the care your parent is deserving of.”