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Should You Care for Aging Parents Who Neglected or Abused You in Childhood

AngryOlderManeberhard-grossgasteiger-242155-unsplashPhoto credit Berhard Grossgasteiger

Years ago, a journalist (we’ll call her Nancy) requested an interview with me to discuss common caregiving issues for an article she was writing. We bonded during our chat, and Nancy shared some of her own experiences trying to cope with her aging parents’ needs. In addition to notoriously difficult decisions that come with caregiving, like whether Dad should continue driving or if Mom needs more help at home, Nancy was also struggling with years and years of toxic family history. Initially, she felt that her experience was unusual. After all, we mostly hear about family caregivers who are forced to choose between their careers and quality time with their spouses, children, and friends when parents’ needs begin increasing. What Nancy didn’t know—and many caregivers don’t—is that countless adult children grapple with the impossible decision of whether to care for parents who were unsupportive, neglectful, and/or downright abusive. 

A Daughter’s Attempt to Reconcile a History of Abuse: As we talked, Nancy described the inner turmoil she was facing as her parents got older. She grew up with a physically and emotionally abusive mother, and her father was gone much of the time, doing what most men of that generation did: making a living to support his family. Therefore, he wasn’t around to “interfere” with the raising of the children. Nancy had spent years in therapy learning to cope with her childhood issues. Through hard...

Continue reading on Agingcare for more about the painful, complicated situation of abuse from childhood and eldercare:

Support a caregiver or jump-start discussion in support groups with real stories - for bulk orders of Minding Our Elders e-mail Carol  

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