Aging is a natural and healthy part of the human life cycle. As the number of aged in the United States begins to rapidly increase—as the baby boomer generation begins to reach age 65—it is reasonable to assume that research and information on the process of aging will increase as well. Much like the baby boomers defined other aspects of their social development so too will this population provide integral insight into this important stage of growth and development.While the issue of aging is one that has notable ramifications for the development of understanding human development, as the majority of the population begins to age society will need to address the issue of providing support and care for this population. While the issue of health care is one that is notably complex overall—as questions have developed about the ability of the Medicare system to effectively provide coverage for all senior citizens—there are other dimensions of this life transition that are pertinent for sociological research. In particular, researchers need to effectively address how adult children will manage the care of their aging parents.With the realization that the number of aged in the United States will increase significantly in the near future the issue of providing care for aging parents is one that has significant implications for social discourse.
[...] Even when adult children have the best interests of their parents in mind the juxtaposition of parent and child in this dynamic relationship can promulgate considerable distress for the aging parent. While Pyke focuses on the impact of role reversal on the emotional state of the aging parent, other researchers have chosen to examine the impact of this relationship on the adult child. Haggan (1998) reports that while many researchers have noted that adult children will soon assume considerable responsibility for their aging parents, most adult children are not prepared to deal with this transition. [...]
[...] In addition to the emotional issues that can arise for both aging parents and adult children, this research clearly demonstrates that there are a host of financial considerations that must be taken into account when making the decision to care for an elderly parent. As noted by Weisser (2004) many of the financial considerations that arise in the context of providing care for aging parents and can be mitigated to the development of contingency plans which enable families to mobilize resources to manage potential health care problems for older parents. [...]
[...] However substantial changes in culture and society in creating the situation in which many elderly parents will have to rely on their adult children to provide care for them as they age. Clearly, the situation poses a number of significant challenges for both adult children and for aging parents. While some of the issues associated with caring for an elderly parent can be mitigated through planning, this research demonstrates that the emotional issues involved with the situation are difficult to address any preventative manner. [...]
[...] Ward and Spitze argued that marital relationships in later life often sharpen as a result of shared experiences. The introduction of care for aging parent and markedly reduced this marital satisfaction. The potential problems and stress associated with adult children caring for their aging parents has prompted researchers to coin the phrase “sandwich generation.” Park (2005) in his investigation of the sandwich generation defines this demographic population as “those who care for aging parents while raising their own children” (p. [...]
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