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Getting Along with an Aging Mom

Researcher Alexis J. Walker asserts that caregiving for a parent does not develop suddenly after an era of intergenerational independence and the onset of need. Rather there are many examples of assistance given prior to that time in simple acts of sending left over food to a mother's home, purchasing items for them in the store, running errands, accompanying them to the doctor, and many more. For some mothers and daughters, interaction after loss of independence can be similar to healthier time periods in their relationship.

Building Blocks

Intergenerational independence refers to individuals who belong to different generations and live as independent, autonomous persons during a specific period of time.

The Mother-Daughter Relationships That Fair Best

According to Walker, how mother and daughter feel about giving and receiving care is dependent upon the quality of their earlier intergenerational relationship when each lived independent lives. Here is what Walker found:

  1. Daughters who felt close to their mother during the period of intergenerational independence experience less frustration and anxiety when it comes time to giving care.
  2. Mothers who feel close to their daughters do not exhibit as much anger as those moms who are not as close to their daughters when the time comes for them to need their [daughters'] help.
  3. Daughters who were part of pairs of mothers and daughters who thought of themselves as good friends found the caregiving relationship to be rewarding. They had fewer conflicts, expressed concern for each other, respected one another's autonomy, viewed each other as adults, and tried to maintain the mother's independence.
  4. Ambivalent pairs of mothers and daughters who expressed both positive and negatives in the intergenerational relationship did not find the period of caregiving as rewarding. They experienced more conflict. Daughters felt that their mothers did not demonstrate a concern for them, respect their autonomy, or appreciate their efforts.
  5. Moms and daughters whose younger relationship was full of conflict and individual focus had the least satisfying interaction during the caregiving era. Daughters did not find caregiving rewarding but felt it was a heavy burden.

More on: Aging Parents

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Mothers and Daughters © 2001 by Rosanne Rosen. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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