Special to The Hays Daily News

There are a lot of reports emerging in recent months on the topic of economic stress as a result of the rising cost of fuel, groceries and many other items and services. Finances are a main source of stress for many Americans, and when groceries become expensive, fuel is the highest price ever, and jobs are also cut back, family stress increases for everyone.

Not only do parents worry about taking care of their children, but many are also concerned about their own parents who are aging and elderly. More and more adult children worry about what the future holds for their aging parents and feel responsible for their well-being.

As life expectancy increases and people live longer, there will be a need for additional health care including medications, appropriate housing and eventually long-term care. Many adult children worry that the assets and pensions of their elderly relatives will not be sufficient for them to remain independent for as long as they are able.

This ongoing concern can eventually effect their own physical and emotional health, especially when they do not recognize and take steps to reduce the resulting stress.

Experts who research and study aging and elderly issues in the United Kingdom have labeled this worry about what the future holds as Elderly Parent Responsibility Stress Syndrome or EPRSS. Along with the worry and responsibility, is also the dependency that many aging parents have on their adult children, and their need for reassurance and active participation of their children on everything from a simple purchase to investment choices.

Adults with EPRSS are described as feeling very responsible for their elderly relatives, worrying about their loved one's health and general well-being, and feeling guilty if they do not see or keep in touch with their relative as much as they think they should. In addition, they often find it difficult to talk with their parents or relatives about these issues.

Suggestions for dealing with this kind of stress include taking control of the situation by talking with parents; making plans for the future in regards to finances, living arrangements, health care, etc; discussing wills and funeral arrangements; letting go of the guilt; and seeking professional advice when needed.

Contributed by Karen Schueler, manager, Prevention, Education and Outreach Department at High Plains Mental Health Center. The views expressed here are those of the individual writer and should not be considered a replacement for seeking professional help. Mail questions to: High Plains Mental Health Center, Plain Sense, Prevention, Education, and Outreach Department, 208 East Seventh, Hays, KS 67601. Questions will be formatted and answered in a manner that ensures confidentiality. www.highplainsmentalhealth.