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Changing relationship dynamics as your mom ages

Here's some information to help you understand how to deal with the role reversal as we and our mothers age.
Credit: Konstantin Yuganov - stock.adobe
Happy mother's day! Beautiful young woman and her mother with flowers and gift box at home.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — There are several reasons why some moms might struggle with their adult children taking care of them. It’s not the nature of motherhood for a child to take care of their mom. The role reversal can feel uncomfortable, and moms might feel like they’re letting their kids down. There can be a loss of independence. 

Another reason is that moms might not want to be a burden on their children whether it’s their kid’s time, energy, or finances. If their adult children are taking care of them that it could lead to uncomfortable feelings about their own failing health and eventual mortality. Culture could play a role in the resistance also. It might be expected that moms maintain their independence, or it can be perceived as a weakness.

If you have any concerns about your mom living alone then have an open conversation with her. Ask for her perspective on how things are going. See what she’s willing to reveal. Then you can share your observations and why you think it’ll be a good idea that she gets a little help. Explain what the help might look like.

One thing that’s important to keep in mind is to give your mom a voice. She’ll be much happier if she’s included in the decision-making about her life. She’ll feel respected and in control and less stressed and less likely to suffer from depressive symptoms.


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