One of the misconceptions about the very frail and old is that they were all good, kind people. Sadly that is not necessarily the case. Mean people live long and get old every bit as much as nice people. Some of those people were bad parents; very bad parents. These people may have made a major turnaround or they may continue to be difficult throughout their entire lives. When they are in need of help somehow the children they abused are often asked to step up to the plate. The elder may give out a child’s name as their next of kin, or designate the child as an agent on a document, even though they have not spoken in many years.
So, what do those adult children do? Some step away, breaking ties forever while many others stay or return to help. Why stay, you may ask? There are many different beliefs including a commitment to be a better person than the parent, to avoid community criticism, the biological bonds of the parent-child relationship, or just feeling entrapped. Whatever the reason, many children do step up and help, even in light of the history of mistreatment.
Families with this type of background often find themselves in a quandary. Typically, the adult child has little information about the parent and has avoided researching and learning about the parent’s needs. And rightfully so. A Life Care Planning or Elder Law Firm can be particularly helpful in this kind of situation. As a Life Care Planning and Elder Law Firm we help our elder clients seek and obtain the best care available, find ways to obtain and pay for care, and reduce the possibility of an eventual family legal battle. In doing so, we hope to reduce the pressure on the elder and caregiver family members, especially those with this difficult history. For more information on this issue, please see the article I wrote for the January 2015 issue of NAELA News. Although it was written for elder law attorneys, it can be helpful to any reader: