Parenting the Parents: What You Should or Shouldn’t Do When Caring for Your Aging Parents

Man with his parents and familyWhile you are reaching the pinnacle of adulthood, your parents are also aging.

Sometimes, adult children become so caught up with their jobs or their own families that they fail to notice the significant effects of age and time on their parents. Whether or not your parents generally have healthy lifestyles, aging will bring dramatic changes to their lives. Their physical or mental health may decline, and they may need you the most during this time.

There are those who choose to enroll their parents in assisted living facilities. Making this decision is not easy, but, at times, professional senior care services is the best recourse for aging patients. Nursing centers are ideal particularly for seniors with mental conditions like dementia or for those who have limited mobility.

Others, though, choose to care for their aging parents by themselves. If you are among these people, it’s important that you take your time to prepare. You should get your house ready if this is where your parents will reside. Talking to professional senior caregivers about their experiences will also help you a lot. By listening to their stories, you will glean tips on what and what not to do when caring for the elderly.

Let Them Be Independent

Your parents, although aging and showing some signs of physical weakness, should not be treated any differently than other people. According to, treatment of seniors with encouragement and dignity is an important consideration when choosing an assisted living facility. This holds true even for family caregivers.

Although at times their age gets the best of them, it’s not right to pity your parents. Pity does not help your parents; helping them maintain a sense of independence does – even when you assist them with daily needs such as bathroom time.

Be Patient, but Don’t Tolerate Bad Behavior

When you were a kid, your parents may have disciplined or lectured you whenever you did something that was not nice. If you notice some changes in the attitudes and moods of your parents, the best thing to do is talk to them about it.

If your father, for instance, is suffering from the Grumpy Old Man syndrome, be patient with him. A study found that, at 70, men become grumpy because they are more aware of their mortality. Or, this behavior can also result from knowing they don’t have any goals left to achieve. Additionally, lower testosterone levels have something to do with the irritability and mood swings.

When your father is acting up, try to calm him down and respectfully tell him why he shouldn’t behave that way. Don’t let this episode get to you, nothing good will come out of it. Understand that, as a person grows old, it’s normal to get burned out. But, if the mood swings become drastic, it may be best to consider professional help.

Be Flexible and Responsive to Their Needs

Being your parents’ caregiver will take a lot of your time. For this reason, even before your parents move in with you or you move in with them, you should make arrangements regarding your job. If possible, have flexible working hours so you can accommodate your parents’ needs without sacrificing your career and income.

If, however, the primary caregiver is your sibling and not you, you should still make an effort and share the responsibility. Take some time off work and give your sibling some time off.

Don’t Make Them Feel Like a Burden

Your parents understand the challenges that come with taking care of someone. Because of this, they may sometimes feel like a burden; always reassure them they are not. Otherwise, they might spend the rest of their lives feeling guilty.

By letting them help out at home with simple things like cooking a meal or feeding the pets, you are giving them some kind of purpose.

It takes hard work and a lot of patience to be a family caregiver. There are a lot of sacrifices you have to make and struggles you have to overcome, including money concerns and time management. But, if this is the path you have chosen, then your commitment to and love for your parents will help see you through.