There is a recurrent theme that I continue to see in my elder care work with families. It involves a breakdown in communication that has likely started sometime ago. As a result of this miscommunication, the trusting relationship that I would like to be believe originally existed there, has been damaged. This lack of trust seems to revolve around several parties and may include distrust from parent to child and/or between the adult children who disagree what mom or dad’s care/living needs are and/or between the children and their parent’s second spouse (a step parent).
After the death of a spouse, many adult children are very suspect about their parent’s new found partner. While love may be blind, the concern by the children is that having money may make their parent vulnerable to unscrupulous suitors. Even in those subsequent relationships that have celebrated 20 years plus, I have seen suspicion and distrust remain between children and the parent’s partner. They say that actions can speak louder than words and I believe it is important for children to observe a parent’s happiness and well being. A few things to consider:
Does the parent seem happy?
Does the parent seem well cared for?
How is the interaction between the couple?
Do they continue to be socially active with their friends and family?
Has their lifestyle changed dramatically?
The issue of capacity continues to be critical and needs to be acknowledged at various times depending on the parent’s cognitive health. As well the legal safeguarding of the parent’s finances and resources is also important and needs to be addressed.
Love, trust and communication are the starting points in every relationship and are especially critical between adult children and their parents if they want to remain involved in supporting and caring for their aging parent.