Saturday, July 10, 2010

Aging Parent. New Romance. Support? Protest? Ignore?

The more we invest ourselves in something--the harder we work at something--the harder it is to let go.  It's also more difficult to see things objectively.  But it's often a part of life as we try to help parents age well.

While some think the aging father discussed last Saturday is doing just fine, thank you, others have questions. Some can identify with and understand a devoted daughter's inability to think objectively about the benefits another woman can bring to an aging father's life--especially when she's much younger. 

One  adult daughter explains how her older father was revitalized by his relationship with a much younger woman.  From a rather "blah" aging widower, not wanting to leave his apartment unless necessary, he gained energy, loved "to be on the go." He was like a new person according to this daughter. They had the younger woman to thank.

Another woman tells of a man in his 80s who lived (unmarried) six years with a woman young enough to be his daughter--until health issues associated with aging began to catch up with him. The 50-something-year old woman still had many good years ahead and decided she didn't want to be tied down.  The man had six wonderful years with the younger woman, according to this pragmatic woman, years he wouldn't otherwise have had. She suggests if the devoted daughter can "wait it out" chances are the relationship could dissolve like the one just described. Easier said than done perhaps.

Other considerations:            
  • As we try to help aging parents it makes sense to ask ourselves "what's the goal?"  Parent's needs/wants or adult child's needs?
  • A special and close relationship with a parent is priceless. Shouldn't the daughter keep that thought "front and center" and let everyone happily move forward?
  • If the girlfriend's age bothers the daughter, does she also realize that a younger girlfriend can be a big help to an aging parent? AND no doubt she'll take over some of the responsibility that would otherwise fall to the daughter (who in this case is a far-away living daughter).
  • If there's a concern about inheritance issues, assuming the aging parent is of sound mind, there's nothing legally that can be done. However...
  • If a child feels comfortable having a conversation about prenuptial agreements, and understands monies can be put in a trust for the younger woman's lifetime with the remainder going back to his family after her death, that's a possible conversation. But details should be checked with an attorney to be certain of facts before such a conversation takes place.
  • Concern about a "gold-digger" or less-than-desirable "girlfriend?" One can always try Googling or--at the extreme--hire a private detective. This could legitimately be considered as "helping an aging parent" when there are seemingly valid reasons for concern.
Although aging parents may do things that we are skeptical of, they are still our parents. We are still their children. If they are of sound mind, is it better to let go of efforts to control things that don't endanger life and limb or their finances? Or should we, in our effort to help our parents age well, direct that energy towards making them happy?
    What do you think?

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