Seattle, Wash. (PRWEB) June 26, 2012
Since Robert moved to Florida to care for his aging mother, dating hasnt been part of his life. He doesnt have the time or energy. The 53-year-old single computer consultants 87-year-old mother has dementia and difficultly walking. He assists her with daily needs in her apartment, takes her to doctors appointments, and manages her medications, finances and other details, all the while researching the ideal long-term solution for her care.
At the end of each day, its late, Im tired and Im not thinking about trying to get out to meet people socially, Robert says.
Robert is not alone. One in three baby boomers is unmarried, a significant increase from 30 years ago, when just one in five people between the ages of 43 and 65 was single. Meanwhile, their parents generation is living longer: the number of Americans 85 and older has doubled in the past 20 years and half have Alzheimers disease or some other form of dementia.
The demographic data and what we hear anecdotally tell us that many single baby boomers are spending a great amount of time on their parents care and its a constant juggle between this and their work lives, said Kelly Scott. She is the author of When Your Only Date is Mom, a free new pamphlet on single boomer caregivers and dating, and vice president of Emeritus Senior Living. The pamphlet is available for free download at http://www.Emeritus.com/dating.
What these single boomers end up sacrificing are dating and relationships. This can become isolating and unhealthy, because companionship, intimacy and sexuality are basic human needs that feed our souls, Scott said.
Since they are unmarried, these baby boomers may find themselves assuming more caregiving duties than their brothers and sisters with spouses.
Sometimes the married siblings will say, You dont have a family, so you have more ability to handle this, Scott said. Perhaps the situation has never been discussed and the single person has simply taken on the responsibility because it seemed to make sense. This can cause friction in an already difficult situation.
In addition, some aging parents might not encourage single boomers to seek out relationships. Parents may have the expectation their children will focus on them exclusively in return for the years they spent raising them, Scott said. Adult children feel a desire and obligation to be there for their parents, and may experience guilt if they arent.
However, not considering dating a priority has far-reaching negative consequences. Besides being central to us as human beings, intimate relationships enrich daily life and help us in handling stress, including the stress of caregiving, said Scott.
Withdrawing from relationships can have a long-term impact, too. Caregiving can go on for years, Scott said. Upon the parent passing away, it leaves an emotional void for the single person who has primarily been focusing on them. It can be very hard to know how to resume dating.
Lack of interest in dating may also be a sign of caregiver depression. Other symptoms of depression may include involvement in dangerous practices, such as dependency on alcohol and tobacco, drug use, or casual sexual liaisons, said Scott. If this begins to happen, caregivers should know that support and help are available to deal with the psycho-social aspects of caring for an aging parent. There are so many resources, including psychologists, counselors, pastors and support groups.
But just as important: Making the effort to bring meaningful romantic intimacy back into their lives. ?We all have a responsibility as human beings to take care of ourselves, Scott said. If your only focus is caring for your parents, you are denying important needs. And after talking with your parent about the issue, you may find he or she is very supportive of your desire for a relationship. Many people in the senior generation have had long, stable and successful marriages, and they want the same happiness for their children.