Sunday, January 15, 2006

exchanges between generations

Studies of relationships between older people, their children, and other family members have repeatedly shown that help flows both ways between the generations. Older parents help their adult children with babysitting; take over child care when their daughters or sons travel away from home on vacation or business trips; help out in the household and with nursing when family members become ill; do daily chores involving housekeeping, preparing meals, and paying bills; and are called upon for advice. A national survey showed that 67 percent of the elderly population had recently provided assistance to children and family members. Help provided by children and family to older people is by no means meager-the same national survey showed that two-thirds of the elderly say that they have received support from family members in the past month.
When it comes to the important and morale boosting matter of visiting between the elderly, their children, and family, quite contrary to what many people think, the vast majority of older people are by no means isolated or neglected. About 80 percent of the older population have living children; over three-fourths of the older population live within a half hour's travel from at least one child; almost 90 percent of the elderly with children have seen a child in the past month; three-fourths see a child at least weekly and more than half do so every day or two. Besides this, three-fourths of grandparents see a grandchild weekly, while anywhere from one-third to one-half get together with a brother or sister every week.
See also CAREGIVER; ROLE REVERSAL.
Ward, R. The Aging Experience. 2nd ed. New York: Harper and Row, 1984.

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