I freely admit I have parental guilt.

It’s not that I necessarily have anything to feel guilty about. Still, as many folks who have children can easily attest, that doesn’t necessarily assuage one’s feelings when it comes to wanting the best for their kids and wishing they could do more to make it so.

As adults, it’s obviously important that they find their own way, and yet, when circumstances haven’t worked out in their favor, it’s only natural that we want to intervene.

My son, Chris, visited us last week for the first time in three years. His work schedule and, of course, the pandemic, had a lot to do with the delay. On the other hand, I’ve been unable to make it down to Florida to visit him and his brother, Kyle, either.

Time just slips by, and all of a sudden, the time between visits seems like an eternity.

Many of our friends have family who live nearby, and, naturally, they’re able to share time on a regular basis. They’re close and connected, and I admit that I’m a bit envious.

My sons are 36 and 34, respectively. Granted, they’re not kids anymore. But. Like most parents, I still fondly remember them as they were when they were younger. I joke that I still have their stroller and I want to wheel them around the block.

Sadly, they’re struggling. They both take turns helping their mother care for their aging grandfather who has dementia, and that’s prevented them from working full time. It’s been a real hardship. They’re both extremely talented, bright and personable and yet, due to those circumstances, they haven’t been able to move on.

So yes, I feel the guilt.

The fact is, I wish I could do more to assist them. Yet, it will take more than simply giving them money to help them secure their way in the world.

Our parents always had high hopes that life would be easier for their children than it was for them. In many ways, that proved true. My dad worked until the day he died at age 78. He left my mother with a pile of debt and no financial security to speak of. Fortunately, I learned from the mistakes they made and managed to carve out a life that I always wanted, thanks in large part to the fact that we live here, in beautiful East Tennessee.

In many ways, life for our kids is more difficult now than it was when we were coming of age. Jobs may be plentiful, but they don’t always offer the choice positions that we were able to secure when we went out into the world. Competition is enormous and special skills are required.

It often comes down to the luck of the draw and the freedom to be flexible when flexibility has its limitations.

I think it’s natural then that I want that for my boys. Yet, I know that there’s only so much I can do to help them attain those goals.

I can advise and suggest, but that doesn’t decrease my feelings of guilt and frustration when it comes to my ability to help them move along.

Fight for your rights

I recently read an article that shared the fact that ageism has become increasingly prevalent in the medical arena. It seems that there’s an assumption that when it comes to diagnosing and discussing even the most common maladies, many doctors and nurses simply assume that because people are older, it’s only natural that they’re afflicted with certain ailments.

In other words, they’re taken for granted. It’s assumed that they’re simply complaining and that aches and pains are a natural part of the aging process and ought to be treated as such.

As a result, they’re simply ignored. If one of their children accompanies them to the doctor’s office to discuss a specific situation, it’s not uncommon for the medical staffer to speak directly to that other person, and not make eye contact with the patients themselves.

They’re treated like children, proverbial complainers or folks who are simply incapable of understanding their own prognosis.

Fortunately, that’s not been the case with the doctors that I’ve found here in East Tennessee. The majority are kind, caring and compassionate.

However, if you don’t find that to be the case, speak up! You have every right to ensure that you are well taken care of.

Remember — stay senior strong!

And now for a bit of good news

We’re all getting raises!

The monthly increase in Social Security payments will be a whopping 5.9%. That’s the biggest increase in 40 years. The adjustment, which is based on the adjusted cost of living, or COLA, will go into effect with our January 2022 checks. For individuals earning $1,565 a month, that means a hike of approximately $92 a month.

While we can all appreciate the monthly raise, it’s still to be seen if there will be any increase in Medicare costs, which are usually deducted from our monthly Social Security payments.

As far as I’m concerned, however, any additional income is well worth celebrating.

Email lezim@bellsouth.net to reach longtime freelance music writer, reviewer, critic and blogger Lee Zimmerman.

Daily Times columnist, correspondent

Lee Zimmerman is a Maryville resident and longtime freelance music writer, reviewer, critic and blogger.

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