When did the roles reverse?

As I read this article over again before posting it, I can feel the sadness in me.  I do realize there are some things you choose to take on and other choices are just that; to do or not to do and that is one of the questions.

Does anyone else understand how hard this is; seeing a parent gradually become more vulnerable? HAVE I ALWAYS BEEN MORE THAN A CHILD TO MY PARENT?

The question, “When did the roles reverse” refers to when a child now has to take care of an elderly parent or parents.  Did you see this coming or did it just happen?  Are you now perceived as the “bad guy” or is everything going smoothly with a gradual transition of the child helping the parent when needed?

The Baby Boomers and younger generations have been and are now in a position of needing to help elderly parents in different ways.  Many knew the potential was there, but some gradually stepped into the changing role while others scrambled to juggle everything in their own life and their parents at the same time.

Imagine being the elderly parent and wondering what is my child going to do with me when I am “too old”. Now, consider the child who does not want to take on the role reversal and be seen as the “bad guy”, enforcing and making life changing decisions.

I know there are many different scenarios and situations when elderly people need help and often children are there to assist with no problems.  Perhaps it is love that binds us all together, but what if fears come into the picture, what does anyone do with this? Fear can stand on both sides of the role reversal.

This is similar to when raising young children sometimes you fly by the seat of your pants and hope it all turns out okay.  Jokingly I ask, “Is there a Dr. Spock how to book for children to follow when dealing with their senior parents”?


The main concern for me is to do no harm.  Do the best with what you know and understand.  Seek help from other family members, organizations or professionals who understand the situation.

Sometimes, no matter how often you try to do your best, the best is not good enough according to others. DO YOUR BEST ANYWAY!

Barbara Saunders is a grief counsellor/Thanatologist.