After several years of her aging mother's hardships -- including open-heart surgery, a bad fall down 13 stairs and the death of a close companion -- Mary Margaret Esler knew she needed to step in and help her mom, Irene Esler, manage her life.
Esler, of Lower Burrell, has taken charge of her mother's checkbook and pays the bills. The younger Esler does all of the household chores, like laundry and cleaning, for Irene Esler, 77, who now is staying in a nursing home after falling and breaking her ankle. The older Esler has struggled, at times, as she accepts help from her daughter, with whom she has lived for several years.
"I have to give her a little bit of leeway, but she can't do it" on her own, says Mary Margaret Esler, 48. "She doesn't mind the help, but it's the fact that she can't do it anymore. She says, 'I used to do that; why can't I do it now?'
"I figured, if she kept me for that long, I can keep her," Mary Margaret Esler says, recalling her childhood.
When an elderly parent or other loved one reaches the point where everyday tasks become difficult -- particularly managing finances -- adult children need to intervene and take over some responsibilities, experts say. Yet, the situation is delicate; it's not easy for a parent to deal with what feels like a role reversal. After decades of managing their money and households, when older people can no longer do it without help from their grown kids, it can feel embarrassing and depressing.
One of the most important steps to take when helping ailing relatives, Small says, is giving power of attorney -- the permission for someone to act and make decisions on their behalf, financially and in other ways. This can help to protect seniors from their potentially bad choices.
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Adult Children Often Step in to Handle Tasks for Parents