How To Take Care of Elderly Parents – Role Reversal

Have you recently taken on the responsibility of caring for an elderly parent? If so you might be struggling to define your role in your parents life and to determine how best to care for your parent. This article provides advice for those who have found themselves parenting a parent.

Daughter and Mother

Parenting Your Parents: When There’s a Role Reversal

As people enter middle age and beyond, they sometimes find themselves with a role reversal. Instead of their parents caring for them, they are now responsible for the care of one or both parents. While some people make this transition fairly easily, others struggle to understand their position as at least a part-time caregiver for a parent. There are several things you can do to make this transition easier for you as well as for your mom or dad. You need not struggle alone there is support and help available to enable you to take care of your elderly parents.

Give them as Much Independence as Possible

Independence is important for many people as they age. No one wants to feel like a burden to others, and even small bits of freedom can mean a lot to those who are being cared for by friends and family members. The amount of independence you give your parent is going to depend on your mother or father’s physical and mental condition. In some cases, they may still be able to live alone for now, but they may need you or another family member to check on them regularly throughout the day or at least daily.

For others, living with you or another family member while having their own space is an ideal solution. This may mean giving them an apartment attached to your home or at least a bedroom that’s located at the end of a hallway or somewhere else where they can have some privacy.

As much as your parents may have joked about the days when you’d have to change their diapers or when they’d get back at you for all the stress and problems you caused as a child, this likely isn’t an easy transition for your parent.

People like their independence. If your parent is physically unable to live alone but still has their mental capacity intact, it can be a bit awkward for them, especially if others have to take care of their personal needs, such as bathing or other hygiene needs. For their feeling of self-worth, allow your parents to feel as independent as possible. This means understanding your parent’s limits and not jumping in to help right away. Yes, it may mean being patient when it takes your mom or dad longer to complete a task than it would take if you’d helped.

Understand When to Help

While it is important to give your parent as much independence as possible, it is also important to understand when to help. This may mean intervening in ways that don’t always make your mom or dad happy. This often includes having some of those hard conversations, including the one that leads to taking away your mom or dad’s car keys or the one that leads to them moving in with you

“Living With Dad”

Take Time for Yourself

Parenting a parent can be a full-time job. This can be especially tiring if you are one of those people who also still has your own children at home. Even if it just means a few hours here and there, be sure to make time for yourself. Have another family member come in and care for your mom or dad. Ask a neighbor to come by and sit with your parent for a few hours. You may even want to consider hiring a nurse or other healthcare professional who will stay with your parent regularly.

It is also important to make time for your own children, especially if you still have young children at home. If they feel like you don’t have time for them, they may begin to feel bitter or resentful toward their grandma or grandpa. Of course, if they are a little older, they can also help care for their grandparent.

Admit When It’s Too Much

While nursing homes and other senior care facilities are sometimes viewed negatively, they are there for a reason. If you do not have the physical ability or skills to continue to care for your parent on your own, be willing to admit this.

While hiring an at-home full-time nurse is an option for some people, often a nursing home is the best choice. This does not mean that you will never see your parent again. Research nursing homes near your home, find one that fits your parent’s needs, and then plan regular, maybe even daily, visits to see your mom or dad.

It can be hard to admit that you cannot do it on your own, but an article by Great Senior Living offered some tips to help you decide when it’s time to consider an assisted living facility or a nursing home for your parent. They suggested that it is likely time for your parent to move into a nursing home if they have suffered multiple falls that have resulted in bruises or broken bones, your parent is getting confused or wandering away from home, you have injured yourself while caring for your parent, or if caring for your parent has taken a toll on your other responsibilities.

Ultimately, the role reversal of having to care for a parent can be difficult for both you and your parent. Luckily, the process can go smoother for everyone involved when you allow your parent as much independence possible while also intervening when needed. Making time for yourself and admitting when you’ve reached your limit are also important steps, which will allow you to take proper care of your health as well as your parent’s health.

Related Questions

*How To Deal With Childish Parents.

Do they regress as they age or is it that they see you as an adult and feel they can share anything they like and offload about subjects which may be inappropriate?

Boundaries which may previously have been blurred are now missing altogether, especially if parents are divorced, each parent may discuss the other in a not so positive fasion.  There are no easy answers and there is much written about this subject. However a very good place to start is Boundaries.

The advice given is create your own boundaries stick to them andremind parents of them. This boundary will include no offloading about the other parent, nor about other family members. Never engage in gossip and try to deflect when they look for your unconditional support.

*Parenting Your Elderly Parents When They Dont Want Help

You can see one or both of your elderly parents need help and are not coping with basic every day living. They may have medical and health related issues but may stubbornly refuse to consider an alternative option. What can you do?

How adult children communicate with parents can go a long way toward easing tensions, it is suggested Instead of telling your parent what to do, ask how they’d prefer to solve problems. Elicit their priorities and recognize their values when making suggestions. Give them choices whenever possible. Be attuned to their unexpressed needs and fears.

As I had previously mentioned allowing them their independence and listening to their choices may have greater success than steam roller them or simply ignoring the situation because it is so upsetting for the parent.

Having the courageous conversation with a calmness and understanding, (possibly a few times) possibly including someone else whom they trust will allow them to feel heard.

If you are still at the “thinking stage” the suitability and right time regarding moving your elderly parents in with you, you may find a post the post I’ve recently written – “10 Tips Moving Your Elderly Parent/s Into Your Home” informative and useful. Click on the highlighted link.

Thank you for reading thus far.

If you have any ideas or thoughts please comment in the comment box below.

See you soon


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Cordelia Nixon

Welcome to my website, designed specifically for women who despite being over 50 still have a life to live and a lot to offer. Hopefully "Hey Spring Chicken" will be a place you can find useful information, meet like minded women and where you can find some tips and ideas to make your day-to-day living more enjoyable. Lets find ways to live our best life

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