Could You Be a Helicopter Child? posted on: 12-16-2018

helicopter parents and adult children

Learn about the delicate balance between caring and overstepping boundaries.

We have all known helicopter parents, particularly when a child leaves for college. In fact, we could possibly be guilty of hovering a bit too closely ourselves. Discovering that ideal balance between caring and overstepping our boundaries is not always straightforward.

And now, due to the increased number of sandwich generationers providing care for both children and aging parents, we are in danger of acquiring an additional badge of overbearingness: that of a helicopter child. It’s quite common for adult children to find themselves sliding into a role reversal in regard to their senior parents, with the very best of intentions, of course; naturally, we want to keep our loved ones safe. Nevertheless, this could easily lead older adults to feel indignant, offended, or simply bothered at their new lack of control.

If you believe you are infringing upon your elderly parent’s rights and sense of self-worth and control, here’s the way to come in for a landing, and determine to step in only when absolutely necessary.

Discuss objectives. Engage the senior in a conversation about aging wishes, and exactly how she would prefer you to help in obtaining those goals. For instance, in case the senior were to be diagnosed with dementia, would the preference be to move into a dementia care facility, or stay at home with assistance? In the event that the senior were to fall, necessitating surgery or rehabilitation, how would she imagine her recuperation experience? Would she be more comfortable receiving assistance with personal care tasks, such as bathing and using the toilet, from you or from a trained caregiver?

Speak up when needed. When safety is compromised, it’s essential to step in, maintaining a respectful, collaborative mindset. The goal is to make sure the senior maintains as much self-sufficiency as possible. If she’s reluctant to accept assistance or even to make prudent choices, such as making use of a walker when needed to prevent a fall, it could be helpful to engage the assistance of her medical doctor or a geriatric care manager to present suggestions.

Otherwise, step back. If you are wanting to influence conditions that are not affecting the senior’s health or safety, and she is cognitively still able to make her own decisions, it’s far better to let those concerns go. “A child should be sensitive to a parent’s need for self-determination and maintaining self-identity,” shares Barry Jacobs, clinical psychologist and author of The Emotional Survival Guide for Caregivers: Looking After Yourself and Your Family While Helping Aging Parents.

Call North River Home Care at (781) 659-1366 for professional senior care assistance which is always geared towards ensuring as much independence as is feasible for aging parents, enabling family caregivers the opportunity to step back and allow their parents the freedom they need while remaining safe and secure.