How To Be a Great Caregiver for Your Aging Parents

Becoming a caregiver for your parents can feel like such a strange situation. When you were a child, they had complete control over your life. Now you’re an adult with your own kids, the tables have turned, and they’re the ones looking to you for direction and assistance.

When parents get old, it’s similar to when they are young. They have more needs, and you need to do more things for them. They may not be able to drive, prepare their own meals, or even go to the bathroom on their own.

How To Be a Great Caregiver for Your Aging Parents

Parenting your parents, though, doesn’t need to start when you are an adult. It can begin at any stage of life. For instance, if your mother is mentally ill from a young age, you may need to adopt the role of parent from a very young age.

Being a great parent for your parents, of course, isn’t easy. It takes a lot of time, effort and skill which is difficult to give if you’re also working a full-time job.

In this post, therefore, we take a look at some of the ways you can be a great parent to your parents. If you’re down in the trenches right now, read on to learn more:

Be Gentle, But Assertive

Parents are naturally assertive with their children, telling them what they can and cannot do. However, they can feel a little awkward doing the same for their own parents. Telling them what to do doesn’t feel right.

However, it’s something that you’ll need to get used to, particularly if they have a cognitive issue. They may not always be able to make decisions in their own best interests.

Being assertive doesn’t mean that you need to be aggressive. That’s not how it works. Instead, it just means that you’re ready to provide direction when they need it. You’re not looking to get into any shouting matches with them. You’re just letting them know that the relationship dynamic is different from what it was before.

Prepare The Financial Documents

When parents get older, they can lose the ability to make sound financial decisions. Over time, they lose the ability to manage their money and their health.

Therefore, it’s a good idea to get all the financial documents sorted as early as possible. You’ll need lasting power of attorney which gives you rights to make financial decisions on their behalf if they lose capacity. You may also want to get medical power of attorney. This gives you power to make decisions about the treatment they receive, according to their wishes.

Remember, conditions such as dementia can deteriorate rapidly. Parents can become highly aggravated over a short space of time because they don’t understand what’s going on.

Preparing financial documents fast is the best preparation for this. Otherwise, you may be in a situation where you can’t make any financial decisions about their estate before they pass away.

How To Be a Great Caregiver for Your Aging Parents

Get The Help You Need

Looking after your parents at home is time-consuming and demanding. It’s often impossible for you to do your regular day job. There’s just so much that you have to do.

Getting the help you need, therefore, is vital, partly for your own benefit, and partly for the benefit of your parents.

If your parent has cognitive issues, you’ll want to reach out to homes like the Catholic Care Center which offer dementia-specific care. This means that they have special trained staff who have skills looking after Alzheimer’s patients. They’ve often been through special training to help elderly people manage the condition better.

Accept Your New Role

Accepting that you have to parent your parents isn’t easy. Even as an adult, you may struggle with the change in the dynamic. During our lives, we often approach our parents when we are dealing with difficult issues. Managing them on our own is significantly more challenging.

Therefore, we may resist the idea that we are now parents for our parents. And we may not like it.

However, with aging parents, the time will eventually come when you have no choice but to accept it. In many situations, declines in their health mean that they can’t look after themselves and they need your support.

The trick here is to simply accept your new role. This process can involve grief and fear, but it is something that you can do. You’re no longer dependent on your parents. They depend on you.

Be Insistent

Parents will often resist your attempts to cajole them into doing things that they need to do in their lives. For instance, they may not want to go to the dentist, or they may tell you that they’re not going to take their medication.

The trick here is to insist gently. Saying things like “we have to go now” or “this is something that you need to do for your wellbeing” will eventually persuade them. Just keep going but remain gentle. In many cases, elderly parents are just scared and looking for reassurance. Fear may cause them to lash out, but all you need to do is keep insisting and they will eventually feel more relaxed and accept what you are saying.

Pay Attention to Your Inner Parent

You’ll notice that when you parent your parents, you start saying the things they said to you as a child back to them. This can be a strange experience, and one that you should be aware of.

Ideally, you don’t want to repeat their interpersonal mistakes. Instead, you want to parent in a rational and healthy manner, even if they are older than you.

You’ll notice that your parents have a unique way to activate your emotions. They know what to say to get your riled up because they still use the same phrases and arguments as they did when you were a child.

What you want is a situation where they don’t activate your fear response. If they say something that sounds aggressive or obstinate, just let it pass. As an adult, it can’t hurt you anymore.

Address Their Need for Independence

Aging parents can sometimes feel like they’re backed into a corner. When other people start doing everything for them, particularly their own children, it can feel humiliating.

The trick here is to offer them as much independence as you can. You want them to feel like they can live a relatively normal life, even if they are struggling with age, frailty or dementia.

Independence can come in many forms, depending on their condition. For some parents, it will mean going into a home to receive ongoing care. Here, careers will help them enjoy various activities throughout the day.

For other parents, the level of independence can be quite high. For example, you might only need to provide an hour of help around the house or cook meals for them. They might be able to do the rest.

Throughout everything, always allow them the opportunity to do things themselves. This will make them feel more in control of their lives and not entirely dependent on others.

Remember, it can be very difficult for some people to accept the idea that they need to rely totally on other people. They may be used to being self-sufficient.


Looking after an elderly parent isn’t easy, but it’s something that many people ultimately wind up having to do. The trick here is to accept it and find ways to parent that makes your parents’ life better. Always ask for support. Don’t go into it believing that you have to do it alone.

No comments

Thank you for dropping by! I would love to hear what you thought. :)