NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – You have probably heard of so-called “helicopter parents.”
They tend to be overprotective and hover around their kids almost all the time.
Now as CBS2’s Elise Finch reports, a new group of “hoverers” is emerging: “helicopter children.” They’re adult kids who control their elderly parents’ every move.
Caring for an elderly parent can be difficult – physically, financially and emotionally.
“It’s scary as a kid to watch your parent fail,” one woman told Finch.
In order to cope, some adult children try to dictate what their elderly parents do each day – their medical care, what they eat, where they go and how they get there.
“I’ll take the keys from my parents. I’ll call Con Edison and have their gas turned off. But a lot of people don’t have the strength to look their parent in the eye and put their foot down,” one man said.
As people live longer, more and more adult children find themselves putting their foot down and hovering.
Some older parents don’t mind.
“I translate it as they’re concerned,” said one man.
“It’s been a little pushy at times, but I’ve found that the input has been very helpful, and their caring makes me feel safe,” a woman agreed.
Some elderly people say even if they are not able to do what they once did, they don’t appreciate being treated like children.
“Right now, I’m not getting any respect. That’s a fact,” one woman said.
People Finch spoke with said there’s a very fine line between caring for your aging parent and trying to control them.
“There’s kind ways to do it, like when she tells you at 92 I think I can still drive, we’re like OK mom we’ll see,” said Doris Neugebauer. “And you find little steps you can take to make it more accepting for her.”
Dr. Gisele Wolf-Klein, director of geriatric education at Northwell Health, says the amount of control an adult child should have over their elderly parent’s life comes down to one thing: cognitive ability.
“If they are cognitively intact, whatever it is that they want to do, they should be doing,” she said. “We owe the elderly respect and dignity and decision making until the very end.”
Wolf-Klein also said as long as an elderly parent is thinking clearly, he or she should always be allowed to participate in their own care and offer their opinion on how to resolve issues, even if they’re forgetful or accident-prone.