Friday, February 3, 2023

Caring For Aging Parents

Caring for the Elderly

Parents have always been the caregivers. They worked, provided food and shelter, and raised families. As our parents age, they face a reversal in that role and find themselves needing care. This can be a difficult change for aging parents to accept.

In many cases, aging parents do not want to acknowledge that they need assistance. So how do we care for our aging parents without making them feel that they need it? How do we get past the pride and make their senior years as good as they should be?

  1. Understand their feelings. This should be a good time in their lives, but it’s made difficult because of reduced mobility and retirement from the work force. They’re no longer needed at work and their kids have grown up, moved out and are raising families of their own – without their help. Quite naturally, they don’t feel as needed as they used to be.
  2. Take payment when it’s offered. This can be a difficult one, but the offer makes our aging parents feel they’re still able to pay their own way and are not a burden on you. Decline, but it will probably be pushed on you. Take the cookies, pop, or sandwich. If it’s money, see if you can trade for one of mom’s home-made pies, or dad’s help with a later project. If you have to take the money, put it aside and use it to buy them that something extra, or use it for a grandchild’s education. When they comment on how well their grandchild has done, let them know it was their money that did it.
  3. Call them on the phone. Make calls regular, every morning perhaps, to make sure everything is okay. And tell them that’s why you call. It’s caring. Provide them with a ‘call as you go’ cell phone so they have contact in case of an emergency away from the home. Give it as a birthday, or Christmas gift.
  4. Drop in unexpectedly. This shows that you visit not out of a sense of duty, but because you actually want to see them. It’s important that they not feel forgotten, even though they’re not.
  5. Involve them in your activities. Invite them to the park, grandchild’s school event, or other social activities. Let them be involved in arranging birthday parties, anniversary gatherings, or anything else you could use a hand at.
  6. Ask for their advice. Whether you take it or not is secondary to making them feel that what they think and have to offer is still valued. Gain from their experience.
  7. Listen to their stories. Get them to tell you about the ‘old’ days when they were younger. Have them fill you in on the family backgrounds and things you may never have known. Like most, we like to remember our younger days and our aging parents are no different. It’s a way of passing history from generation to generation.
  8. Have dinner together. This can be one of those home-made meals that mom always used to put on. Her feeling of worth is increased with the knowledge that her kids still enjoy that home-cooking.
  9. Take them shopping. Offer to take them along when you go shopping, or call and ask if they need anything while you’re out. Their continued activity will keep them young and independent, particularly if they can’t drive all that much anymore.
  10. Don’t treat them like old people. They are important members of our senior society, so treat them like respected elders, not like old people.

There’s no magic to caring for aging parents. It’s simply doing for them what they’ve always done for us.

Guest Writer

Originally Published: 02-07-11

This article is intended to convey general educational information and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.


  1. Emily Hunt

    Thank you Roger!
    While my personal situation is somewhat different (I am single and thanks to my own health issues and the economy, now living at home with my senior parents), these tips have really given me a lot to think about, and new things to try. Like I said, I have my own health problems so being with my senior parents who are declining in their health, I have had a tendency to be selfish (like you said, they have always been the care-takers). My amazing father has been taking care of my mother, now in remission from Ovarian Cancer, and also taking care of me. Your article has really gotten me thinking about the ways that I can take care of them, without them thinking of it as charity. Instead of looking at this living situation as a down part in my life, I am looking at it as a time of bonding with my parents; learning more about them as people as opposed to the parental units. I can make sure they have some fun in their later years and spend this quality time strengthening our friendship. Thank you!

  2. Donna Miller

    I have lived this for 4 years with my father and you advice is so right! I am grateful to have been there with him for every chemo treatment sitting there and not just dropping him off! I would read him positive and healing scriptures and they would Power him up, until he got home and one of the family members would be negative 24/7 his wife! I hate to write this but a loving spouse would have made a hugs difference instead all they did was talk about how it’s killing him and she would tell him he ruined her future and they would never enjoy their retirement up at their mountain house, this is horrible to me and he cried a lot from her negative response to his Cancer and he became as negative as she did! I fought with them about being negative and I would all way’s make him positive and want to be a fighter and how proud I was that he was beating it for a while , but as soon as my mom would talk all that positive would turn to negative. I lived with them and some family members didn’t like me being optimist about his condition and most said I was Crazy, but it never stopped me! His worse fears came true and we lost him June 2012! I want to encourage spouses also to just love one another and esteem them no matter what happens and family members also you only get 1 life time and make the best out of it and do your best to love each other and take care of one another and don’t let pride,negativity,selfishness, or anything get in the way of LOVE ! Love is the only way no matter how old you get , sickness, pain,or mistakes we make! Don’t make the mistake not to love you can’t afford too! Do what you have to on purpose ,even if you don’t feel like it! Love on purpose it does make a world of difference! In honor of the man I had the Honor to love,and a True Champion David W. Miller ! I miss you Father of life and I am glad I had a chance to love you through it all and do all I could no matter how hard it got! Thank you Dad for Loving Me!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *