Role Reversal

I’ve heard the term “role reversal” used when my friends and I talk about caring for our aging parents.  For me, it doesn’t really feel like role reversal—she is still my mother even though she needs my help now.  Am I wrong about this?

Alice, Paradise

Dear Alice, 

I’m so glad you asked this question.  I, too, often hear this and feel the way you do.  I clearly remember the day a saw the emotional control a very frail 93 year old woman had on her daughter.  The daughter provided care for the mother, but there was no “role reversal”.  My own father could turn me into a frightened 5 year old with his look and tone of voice.  It is important that we continue to treat our parents with respect.  Dr. Terry Hargrave suggests reminiscing about events in both the adult child and parent’s lives to help shift from the task at hand of care giving in order to maintain the relationship.  If you have a parent who is forgetful and keeps reminiscing about the same event, keep a list of key events handy so that you can share many wonderful memories.  This makes care giving so much more enjoyable and meaningful. 

Sincerely, Lyn