How to tell if you're a helicopter child to your aging parents
HOUSTON – Remember the term “helicopter parents”? They hovered over their kid's every move, controlled every decision. Now experts say those kids are now helicopter caregivers to their parents.
Senior Care Authority in Houston said more than 34 million people in the U.S. are caring for an adult over the age of 50. Most of them have good intentions when trying to care for their parents' or in-laws' health, living situation and clothing, but sometimes it crosses the line toward controlling.
The Conservatory at Champion Forest in Spring is a living facility where seniors kick back, spend time with friends and most importantly, enjoy the freedom of independent living.
“They don't want to be watched so closely and they want their freedom and it can be frustrating for the adults trying to take care of the parents because they can't get them to do what they want them to do sometimes,” said Gary Blizzard, with Senior Care Authority.
Blizzard said he often sees adult children trying to control their senior parents. It's a behavior he calls the "helicopter child."
“They try to micromanage their parents' lives with so many things: what they're wearing, where they're going, when they're coming back, they're trying to be the parent themselves and in fact that's what creates the very tension of the helicopter kid issue,” he said.
To avoid the stress that comes with hovering like a helicopter, Blizzard said to start with a tough talk before your loved ones' health declines:
- Ask what parents’ wishes are and try to stick to them
- Respect their privacy
- Don’t sweat the small stuff
- Avoid arguments by watching your language -- gentle suggestions can be more helpful than scolding words
“If dad's not wearing his hearing aid or mom's not dressed quite the way you want, figure out what you can live with and pick your battles,” Blizzard said.
If you reach a stalemate, then it's time for professional help. A third, unbiased opinion from a doctor or senior care expert can help keep the peace.
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