A Complete Guide to Taking Care of an Aging Parent


Among the many inescapable facts of life is aging. We spend the beginning stage of our life being cared for by our parents and the next stage leading separate lives. But eventually, our parents become elderly and need our help in the same way we once needed theirs.

When it comes time to begin taking care of an aging parent, it’s common to feel overwhelmed. The dynamic between you and your parent shifts completely and you assume a set of responsibilities that no one can truly prepare for. For more information on gynecomastia surgery.

To help you through this major adjustment period, we’ve put together this guide on how to take care of an aging parent. Using these steps, you can create a plan and routine that works for both you and your parent. Read on to learn more.

Consider ADLs First

ADLs, or activities of daily living, are the first thing to address. These are the activities essential to the dignity and overall well-being of your parent. There are two types of activities that fall into this category: basic and instrumental ADLs.

Basic activities of daily living include the following:

  • Eating
  • Walking
  • Mobility (moving from place to place without assistance)
  • Dressing
  • Bathing
  • Toileting
  • Personal hygiene

If they are unable to complete these tasks on their own, it’s important to find them the appropriate help. This can be you or a qualified professional, but we’ll dive deeper into this topic later.

Instrumental ADLs aren’t necessarily fundamental to the well-being of your parent. However, they are activities common to day-to-day life and are those most often provided in long-term care. These activities include:

  • Cooking meals
  • Maintaining a home
  • Running errands
  • Paying bills
  • Using a phone
  • Managing medications

It can be difficult to accept that your parent can no longer handle these tasks alone, whether it be basic or instrumental activities. But you must be honest with yourself when going through these lists. The activities that your parent can and cannot perform on their own will be a major determining factor in the type of care that they need. 

Don’t Neglect Yourself

Caring for another person is an enormous and difficult task, caring for elderly parents is even tougher. When you’re considering everything this situation will encompass, be sure not to overlook your own needs.

Everyone is in different places in their life, everyone has different needs and abilities. It’s not selfish to admit that you’re unable to provide the level of care your parent needs, if that’s the case. The goal is to find a solution that best suits everyone involved, including yourself.

Taking on too much isn’t best for anyone, as you can’t care for others if your basic needs aren’t met first. You don’t want to get into a situation where you can neither care for your parents nor yourself. Avoiding caregiver burnout is key to maintaining your health, as well as your parent’s.

Keep Your Parent Involved

When you’re planning care and senior living options, it’s extremely important to keep your parent involved in the process.

No one wants to feel that their autonomy has been taken from them. And when your parent is already struggling with the reality that they’re not as independent as they used to be, making executive decisions will only exacerbate the problem.

Your parent should feel that you’re their partner, helping them navigate this new stage of life, not turning their life upside down without their consent.

In an emergency situation, drastic changes might have to be made. Ideally, however, you’ll start with small changes and work your way up over time until they’re getting all the help they need.

Sort Out the Financials

The last thing you want to think about when under this amount of stress is money, but unfortunately, it’s something that must be addressed. Regardless of whether you’re planning to move your parent in with you or looking into senior living facilities, caring for your parent is an expensive undertaking.

You need to plan for costs associated with medical care, housing, food, caregiving supplies, etc. Sit down with your parent and determine how much they’re able to afford. You can then apply for financial assistance if needed.

Explore Your Options

Once you’ve assessed your parent’s needs as well as your own, you’re ready to explore your options. There are a number of possibilities available to you, beyond moving your parent into your home and caring for them yourself (though this is an option, too).

The first is to hire a geriatric care manager. This is a professional who will guide you through the process, and manage certain aspects of your parent’s life, taking a portion of the burden off your shoulders. 

A step up from that would be an in-home caregiver, an expert at taking care of the elderly. They would come to your parent’s home and care for them during the day, typically leaving at night.

If your parent needs a bit more care, an independent senior living community could be the choice for you. These range from residents having near-complete independence to 24/7 care, depending on your parent’s needs.

Minimize Stress While Taking Care of an Aging Parent

No matter what your unique situation looks like, taking care of an aging parent can take a major toll on your mental and emotional health. And though nothing will make the task easy, staying organized and having a plan will minimize the amount of stress you experience.

In addition, staying as calm and positive as possible will help your parent to do the same, making their transition into this next stage of life far smoother.

Interested in learning more about improving the lives of your family members as well as your own? Take a look at our blog!