I've become aware of a growing trend, the so-called ''empty nest.'' Experience is changing course. Many adults either approaching retirement or already engaged in retirement are facing new challenges. Adult children, with their families sometimes in tow, are coming home. Aged parents, too, are living with their adult children for elder-care matters.
Hey, what about my dreams for retirement? This shared sentiment offers hope because awareness is the initial step toward resolution. Resolution, you exclaim! What resolution? This isn't what I imagined retirement to look like. It is supposed to be a more leisurely lifestyle not being overburdened by a variation on the theme of parenting. How do I deal with an adult child and her/his problems (financial, for one!) or an aged parent and her/his unique problems? There goes that trip to a warm cozy tropical beach. I thought I could sleep in. Where have my dreams gone? They've abandoned me! Agh!
Sharing the aforementioned sentiments with me on both a personal and a professional level, I cautiously view the copious dynamics with interest. Please allow me a brief journey to my childhood. I lived in a three-story house with family residing in each apartment. Aunts, uncles, parents, grandparents, cousins and siblings shared the entire space acting independent from one another and yet each available as caregivers. Babysitters were family members, not strangers. Love and compassion was a constant. Retirement for the elders meant more time with the youngsters. Love abound!
Now back to the present. The challenge is not new historically speaking, yet each adult, especially in a care-giving role, faces new challenges and obstacles. As our visions become clouded over by these unexplained and unforeseen circumstances, we face not only the role of caregiver, moreover or, we critically get a look into ourselves. Scary?
The emotional state we may find ourselves facing becomes a pathway to our spiritual selves, our relationship as it is with God. Naturally, some of us may question God's motivation and plan for us. Wait a minute! I was supposed to ... (fill in the blank). Now I have my kids and their kids, or my aged parent(s) or both.
So as the caregiver begins to unravel emotionally/spiritually to comprehend the nature of this development, I offer a recommendation: Find someone you trust, perhaps a secular individual or perhaps a trained therapist to help you find some of the answers. Lastly, these aforementioned unplanned events, though burdensome at times, can be fruitful as we reach within ourselves and find the love. Caregivers, who are overburdened in their role, sometimes get ill, too. So while comforting their loved ones who are in need, caregivers need to be aware of pitfalls (they are numerous) that may result in ill health emotionally, eventually physically.
If you find yourself in this role, please consider, reiterating, talking both to supportive folks including mental health and medical professionals. When you are healthy, hey, maybe some of those retirement dreams will manifest.