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.

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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.

Comments (16)
  1. My biggest failure in life was teaching my daughter how to drive and the mere thought that she might be driving us around at the end of our life is extremely scary and painful.

  2. Barry Hirsh says:

    Children do not have the same rights over their parents that their parents had over them. They cannot impose their will absent a court declaring the parent mentally incompetent.

    It is an abomination.

  3. Steve Hardy says:

    There is no way my kids are going to take over my life. I’ll shoot myself before that happens.

    1. Why shoot yourself when you can shoot THEM instead?

  4. Diane Dina says:

    I’m reminded of animals who eat their young.

  5. Mike Kutzle says:

    Try to remember that seniors didn’t get to that age by doing too many stupid things.

  6. jay10940 says:

    Do not allow a 92-year-old person drive no matter what.

    1. My dad is 86 and drives MUCH better then many millennial’s who can’t get their faces out of their phones while “driving”. Granted, they may not have quite the reaction time to get out the way of a distracted millennial swerving into their lane, but they’re not all incapable. Possibly having a yearly or biannual driving test and vision test might be helpful.

  7. This is one side of the issue.

    The other side of the issue is becoming a home health care worker and being there for a parent everyday. I learned a very important lesson early on, its not about what I want, its about what my parent wants to do, can do, and can safely do that comes first. I’m just along to give back to a parent or parents that did so much for me.

    Home HealthCare can actually reduce Medicare hospital costs more than the amount the Home Health care worker is being paid. It’s the one program that Republicans should be backing as it would be an instant job creator while actually cutting Medicare costs by an even greater amount.

    1. Barry Hirsh says:

      All very altruistic, and probably practical.

      But that isn’t the issue. The issue is individual rights. Parents do not relinquish their rights simply by being aged, and their kids can be as much a pain-in-the-posterior as they want, but they do not have the legitimate power to impose their will absent the parent being declared mentally incompetent by a court.

      The bottom line here is RIGHTS. Not practicality, RIGHTS.

  8. I’m not elderly but rather middle-aged. And already I’ve noticed that my two millennial kids are way too comfortable telling me how to live my life than I ever was with either of my parents – even when they were old and one in cognitive decline.

    If parents think their middle-aged kids today are controlling, wait until we see how the know-it-all millennials treat their parents in about 15-20 years.

  9. Why are parents so wimpy these days? My brood well understands that as long as I’m alive I’m in charge, much like my parents were. End of discussion.

  10. My wife and I moved to Nevada and left our children in California to avoid their hovering. The daughter is the one we feared the most.

  11. Sue Jarvis says:

    “control” is the problem! Weak snowflakes, empty hearts.
    “me first” thinking. Should be banned.

  12. “One size does not fit all.” Every human is different, some remain able to manage their life to the end, many others need strict management.

  13. Chuck Curry says:

    If you raise dishonorable children, expect to be treated dishonorably by them.

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