Now, the daughter is ill again. She’s moved in with her parents and they accompany her to her frequent medical appointments. It would be a bruising schedule for any family, but it’s particularly so for an elderly couple. Older parents of ill children face the additional stress of dealing with their own failing health.
My patient in her 70s, who’s now helping her daughter get through cancer treatment again, is philosophical. “What else can I do?” she asks. “It’s sad. I know a lot of older people who are taking care of their kids. At our age we kind of thought it would be the other way around.”
Suzanne Koven M.D. is a primary care internist at Massachusetts General Hospital. She writes a monthly column about the uncertainties, dilemmas, and stories that patients and doctors share in practice. Read her blog on Boston.com/Health. She can be reached at inpracticemd @gmail.com. Her website: www.suzanne kovenmd.com.