As a former academic and researcher, it is hard for me to knock studies. Adding to our knowledge base is always a good thing. Sometimes, though, we encounter published studies, getting serious attention in the media and elsewhere that feel like they are a mediocre result of a Master’s degree thesis (yes, okay, like mine was).
That is sort of the way I felt on reading Paula Span’s latest post in “The New Old Age.” The post’s title, “They Still Don’t Want to Live With You,” pretty much says it all. The “They” is seniors, and Ms. Span is not at all shocked — nor are we, at Support For Home — by the results of some studies that indicate that most seniors really do not want to live with their adult children.
Paula Span writes,
My personal hypothesis, as I’ve written before, is that our boomer generation watched too many episodes of “The Waltons.” I’ve also cited a favorite study by two economists demonstrating that the sharp drop in elderly widows moving in with their children, beginning in the 1940s, reflected not family selfishness but the advent of Social Security. For the first time, those checks allowed people who were no longer working to maintain independent households — and ever since, more of them have.
In Ms. Span’s personal experience, her father is in a continuing care retirement community. In our personal and professional experience, it is parents — and many clients — passionate about living at home, not with “the kids.”
Many of our home care clients actually have adult children who live fairly close to them. Many families are very much engaged with their elder parents’ lives. But the data — not just in our agency, but among our colleagues in the industry — is that the parents want to live in their own home, where they have been for 20-30 years, or at least by themselves, if they have chosen a senior community.
They may need help from us or another good home care agency, to support Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), but they want as much independence and control as they can possibly have. Frankly, we honor them for that.
How about you or your parents? How do you feel about this?
Best wishes. Bert