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Why These People First Felt Like An Adult When They Were 60 Years Old

Why these people first felt like an adult when they were 60 years old

Some 25% of adults over 50 are taking care of a parent.

Editors’ note: We are exploring the idea of adulthood. See the first part of our series here.

Gary Thornton’s mother no longer recognizes him. She thinks he’s a cousin, and he doesn’t correct her.

His mother, Colleena, has Alzheimer’s and needs constant care at their home in Des Moines, Iowa. “This year she just really took a turn for the worse,” he said. “She no longer knows this is her house, and if she’s here by herself she gets scared. I can’t leave her alone here anymore.”

Thornton is 59. When MarketWatch asked when readers began feeling like adults, he said taking care of his mother has forced him to grow up more than ever. When his mother’s health began deteriorating, he realized there was no one else who could take over.

Gary Thornton said he has had to grow up while caring for his own mom, Colleena.

Experts have said besides financial costs, taking care of parents has many emotional ones, including feelings of guilt during any times spent away from those parents and potential conflict with other family members who disagree about the parent’s care.

Explaining why taking care of his mother made him feel more like an adult than ever, he said, “That parent and child relationship, I used to have that with her, and that’s gone. I just realize it’s me now, and nobody else basically, and I have to make all the decisions.”

Thornton was working in a sales support role at the Dallas Morning News at the time, and took a buyout in 2008 to move back to Iowa, where his mother lives. He now works part-time at a gym, while his mother’s part-time caregiver watches her at night.

He is divorced and has a 28-year-old daughter as well, who is in graduate school.

Thornton is not alone. As the baby boomer generation ages, their Generation-X children will increasingly have to make similar accommodations. Some 25% of children over 50 are now providing personal care and/or financial assistance to a parent, a number that’s more than tripled over the past 15 years, according to the MetLife Mature Market Institute.

For a 65-year-old couple, there is a 35.7% chance that one of them…

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