Today more of us are living longer. The changes we've seen in people's lifestyles, along with improved health care, have meant that living into our 80s and 90s is becoming more common.
That's the good news, but these longer life spans can also represent additional burdens for many families. Although Dad and Mom may be looking forward to their 85th birthdays, they may not be in the same shape as they were in years past. They may have increased health issues, can no longer be as independent as they once were, and may be making, out of necessity, more demands on younger family members.
While most of us want to be as supportive as possible to the seniors in our families, there can be times when the needs of elderly parents are demanding too high a price from their children. There are no easy answers to such situations, but there are some actions that might help.
A first step is trying to determine if the needs of an aging parent are real, or are they simply demands being made because he or she feels you "owe" help when and where it is desired? If some such demands don't seem to have a legitimate basis, having a sincere heart to heart about the stress and problems these demands are causing you is a step that should be taken.
You might also want to look for other sources of help. Are there siblings who might be able to lend a hand? Even siblings or other relatives far away may surprise you with offers of unexpected aid.
It's also worth exploring non-family help that may exist in the area. Neighbors and friends, when made aware of the problem, may be eager to offer some help and reduce your burden. Similarly, most towns have services for the elderly that might be able to aid with transportation and recreation needs.
Managing your time well is also important. Rather than simply being available on demand, you can create a schedule with an aging parent to cover small chores like shopping or bill paying.
It's natural to want to provide needed help as parents become older and less capable, but it's also important to be realistic and reasonable in how much assistance you can give. When you exceed your limits you can end up with negative results for yourself, your family and that aging parent.