As we approach the holidays, we can see where the nearly normal family faces frustration and anger with a dependent older parent. We will use the brisket and the Rugelach to illustrate this point. If an elderly Mom was always a devoted parent, in her role as the head of family rituals (as most mother’s are), she probably always made the Crème de la crème of the Hanunkah ritual- the brisket
But what if in her aging decline can’t make that brisket anymore? Someone has to take over not just making the brisket or chocolate Chip Cherry Rugelach but be the new head of the family ritual, which is so much more than just a brisket or rugelach. It could be making a menu, assigning dishes to bring- running the show.
When Mom is dependent and can’t run that show?Adult children can be resentful and even angry. Mom always took care of this brisket and us. Now one of us needs to take over this ritual and all rituals plus take care of her. The parent that nurtured the family now not only need nurturing herself but the family must reorganize and get a new chef for the brisket, baker of the rugelach and on a meta level – shift the roles that the parents filled to themselves. This can be gut wrenching. To the nearly normal family and make them angry, aggrieved .Why? It is a whole shift of balance in the family and change is difficult for all family systems.
This is a good time for the nearly normal family to talk about having a family meeting after the holidays how to handle a parents’ decline as a team. It may be a good time to have a geriatric care manager , facilitate that meeting that may include adult children’s feelings, resentments, should Mom or Dad move or age in place —and how to make a plan work together as a family team.