Deadline Now: Caring for Disabled or Ill Adult Children

Deadline Now: Caring for Disabled or Ill Adult Children

Friday, March 29, 2013

This week, Deadline Now looks at two aspects of challenges many parents with adult children face. Whether one's adult child has been developmentally disabled since birth, or suddenly faces a serious illness, parents require unique support and resources in order to help their child.

Dr. Betty Holland is the President and CEO of Sunshine, Inc. in Maumee. Sunshine has been helping people with developmental disabilities, and their families, in Northwest Ohio for 62 years.

Beth E. White and Patricia Ringos Beach are co-authors of the book, In the Shadows: Helping Your Seriously Ill Adult Child. They explore the unique challenges facing parents when their previously healthy child falls ill. The authors share 10 real-life stories that provide guidance on post-adolescence parent-child relationships and the healthcare system.

On the web: www.sunshine.org
On the web: www.illadultchildren.com

Here are Jack Lessenberry's Final Thoughts for this edition of "Deadline Now:"

Years ago, I covered Jack Kevorkian, the Michigan doctor who helped severely ill patients who wanted to die commit suicide back in the nineteen nineties.  Regardless of what you thought of him, or what he did, he said something once that I’ll never forget.

When a prosecutor charged that most of his patients were disabled, Kevorkian agreed. “If we live long enough, all of us will become severely disabled,” he said. That is absolutely true.

If we live long enough, all of us will reach a point where we are unable to take care of our basic needs, and will be dependent largely on others.  Some of us are lucky enough to be able to put that time off for decades. But some need special care from birth.

I have had several friends who had severely challenged children, and all of them were consumed by one concern. What would happen to their child after they were gone?

I can’t imagine how Roy and Georgette Engler must have felt back in the nineteen thirties. They had five children born with severe developmental disabilities, in an age when money was tight, supportive counseling largely unknown, and government health care services nonexistent.

Somehow, they not only raised their family, but founded a facility that since then has helped many other children and adults.

My guess is that is has inspired other similar facilities. But not everyone has the resources of a Sunshine. And more and more, parents are being called on to provide care for their own children after adulthood. There are few road maps for this journey, and that’s why Beth White and Patricia Ringos Beach have written their new book, In the Shadows, one I would recommend to anybody who is now or who may find themselves facing this challenge.

We like to celebrate heroes in this country; astronauts, military leaders, Presidents; people who excel in sports. I’ve met a good share of them in my time. And I’m not sure a single one of them could have endured what Roy and Georgette Engler did every week.

I do know that in a civilized society, taking care of others is the greatest service anyone can perform

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