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Kinship - Aging Together

Gretjen Helene | Massachusetts, United States

Livia & Jackie

For Livia, at the age of 90, the mother role has not ended. In fact, she wants to continue being a key support provider for her daughter. Until recently she would still pick up Jackie— 65 years old— from work after every shift and bring her home. “She is still my mother even though I’m sixty-five, so she wants me to button my coat” said Jackie.

"Kinship: Aging Together: Relationship Dynamics Between the Very Old and Their Old Children; A study by Kathrin Boerner, associate professor of Gerontology at UMass Boston’s McCormack Graduate School, and funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA). Photography by Gretjen Helene

Increasing longevity has given rise to a new phenomenon that was once considered rare: generations of family members reaching old age together. Senior children and very old parents are not so unusual anymore. Boerner received a grant from the National Institute on Aging to examine the relationships of 120 such parent-child pairs. “Our primary objective is to explore the nature and consequences of the very old parent-child relationship.” Helene’s photography is a visual extension of the study's exploration of family relationships where a parent over the age of 90 is being cared for by an adult child who is also in their late life at the age of 65+. Together they are exploring the challenges and rewards that manifest in these family relationships as they navigate the increasing longevity of their lives."

Kathrin Boerner: associate professor, lead scientist

National Institute on Aging (NIA) 

UMass Boston’s McCormack Graduate School

gretjen@gretjenhelene.com

www.gretjenhelene.com

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