In their earlier years Baby Boomers were called “helicopter parents,” known for hovering above their children ready to swoop in and resolve any unpleasantness their kids were subjected to. As they approach retirement years, many are now being called “helicopter children” as the care-givers of aging parents, hovering and prepared to dive in to handle perils or emergencies that arise.
It’s a perilous point in life than most didn’t expect they’d face and often come unprepared to handle. When the child and parent exchange roles, it can be awkward, uncomfortable, disconcerting. “Sometimes there is a loss of dignity when your children have to help take care of you,” says Loe Hornbuckle, the CEO of Sage Oak Assisted Living and Memory Care in the Dallas area.
Hornbuckle has a special sensitivity to care for the elderly, and has cautious advice for those whose lives have unexpectedly been sent down that path. “When it’s time to take the keys away, or make a certain decision,” he recommends, “have the doctor be involved in the process so it’s more of a medical decision, as opposed to your child telling you what to do.”
As people live longer, more are becoming dependent on their children for their care, and as difficult as it is for both generations, Hornbuckle says the alternative to an obsessive adult child is worse than none at all. “From our perspective, having a family that is supportive is really helpful to our caregivers, really helpful to our ability to take care of someone in our environment.”
And it is life-saving, and quality of life-ensuring, for the aging parents.