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Dr. Joy Canfield Psychology, Professional Corporation

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Achieving Balance with Older Parents

The adult children of older parents often experience stress and turmoil when their parents begin having difficulty with their daily lives.  Through her research and general consultation, Dr. Canfield has worked many years with older people and their adult children in identifying solutions to their everyday concerns.  If you are an adult child of an older parent and would like to consult with our office, please call us to schedule an appointment.  We will be happy to help you. Email us at​


Excerpt from Dr. Canfield's Living in Retirement: and Helping Your Parents Enjoy Retirement. Copyright 1995; Revised, Second Printing 2009; Kindle eBook Edition 2017.

How do you figure into the equation of your parents' lives, and how do they figure into yours?  If you choose to work with Dr. Canfield, we will try to assess various methods of maintaining a healthy involvement in your parents lives while you sustain a healthy life of your own. 
 A significant finding in a study of 391 men and women over age 64 was this:  Level of care was the most powerful predictor of psychological well-being in the older person.  In this study, level of care was divided into three categories:  (a) self-sufficient, (b) requiring partial assistance, and (c) requiring full-time assistance.  It was profoundly clear that self-sufficiency was related to an improved quality of life.  When these older people were better able to handle the basic necessities of life such as paying bills, shopping, and caring for their homes, their psychological well-being was decidedly improved.  The more self-sufficient individuals were:
1) less susceptible to psychological distress 
2) had greater self-efficacy in problem solving 
3) experienced their lives as more satisfying 
4) had more positive views of their relationships
5) felt more productive in their daily activities.
  These results are fairly logical, in that, we know that a person of any age will most likely feel more "in control" or autonomous, if that person is able to care for his or her own needs.  This feeling of self-reliance provides a powerful sense of independence.  A strong feeling of self-worth breeds productivity, and there the loop-tape begins again.​ 

(text from above)
Humans have the capacity to feel fulfillment, satisfaction, and joy in the presence of adversity and despair. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that even when humans endure suffering and darkness, they find themselves hopeful that the pain will lift and the light will again be revealed.  Perhaps it is in the realization of darkness and suffering that we are granted a deeper understanding of the starkly contrasting joy and the reason for having hope.

  • Victor Hugo wrote: “The word which God has written on the brow of every man is Hope.”
  • Yet Benjamin Franklin wrote: “He that lives upon hope will die fasting.”

So perhaps there is a balance in our belief in and perception of hope.  Perhaps that balance is in knowing that it is not in the act of hoping that we find the power of peace. Rather, perhaps it is through powerful, proactive, and informed movement that provides hope, reduces fear, and enhances faith and belief in love and respect over the darkness of hate, distrust, and disrespect.  Our challenge?  Each day, see if you can find an opportunity to actively move toward hope through your proactive respect of individual differences. 
(VICTOR HUGO, Les Misérables)
(BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, Poor Richard's Almanac)