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4 Tips for Adult Children Caring for Senior Parents

middle age woman using a computer to find caregiver job

Written by:

Jeffrey Grossman


October 24th, 2022

According to Caregiving in the U.S. 2020, 61% of family caregivers also work. If you’re an adult child caring for senior parents, we commend you. It’s a tall task that many take on, but few plan on it. Juggling the responsibilities of helping elderly parents alongside your work and personal life can be overwhelming.

If you’re saying, “I need help with my elderly mother,” this blog is for you. It’s okay to ask for help caring for elderly parents. In fact, there is a list of reasons why it may be more challenging for you to care for them than a professional caregiver:

  • You have competing responsibilities
  • You have bad familial relationships
  • Your own health is declining
  • You feel ill-equipped
  • You live far away

These are just a handful of reasons that may prevent you from being a good fit as a family caregiver. But caregiving isn’t for everyone, and adult children certainly weren’t meant to parent their parents. Do what you can to remain a son or daughter, not your parent’s caregiver.

In this article, we give advice on caring for elderly parents and what to do when your elderly parent needs care that you can’t provide.

In-home elder care solutions in Charlottesville, Richmond, Williamsburg, VA, and Charleston, SC.

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How to Take Care of an Elderly Parent

According to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, 17% of adults end up caring for aging parents. If that’s you, here are a few tips on how to take care of an elderly parent.

1. Set Clear Expectations

Before caring for aging parents, it’s important to set healthy boundaries and expectations about how the relationship will work. 

As their caregiver, let your parent know what you are and aren’t comfortable helping them with. For example, maybe you’re willing to help around the house, drive them to appointments, and cook meals. However, as soon as they need help bathing or using the bathroom, you agree that it’s time to coordinate in-home care.

You shouldn’t be the only one talking during this conversation, though. Your parent also will have things they are and aren’t comfortable with you doing for them. Make sure that you hear and respect their wishes as much as make sense. During this conversation, consider discussing who they want their power of attorney to be and have them fill out an advance directive.

These conversations are hard but necessary, and it’s best to have them sooner rather than later.

2. Make Home Safety a Priority

As your parents get older, their balance, depth perception, and vision all decline, making them more susceptible to injury. As you care for them, the first step is making sure their living space is safe. To prevent falls, it’s best to have everything they need on one level, especially their bedroom. 

  • Clean up clutter.
  • Install grab bars in the bathroom.
  • Remove rugs and cords from walkways.
  • Plug-in night lights around the house.
  • Put necessities within reach, reducing the need for stepstools or bending down low.

These are just some of the ways you can clear your parents’ home of potential hazards.

3. Assist With ADLs and IADLs

Activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) are key life tasks that people need to manage if they want to live independently. If you’re a family caregiver, these are the tasks you’re likely helping elderly parents with.

Activities of Daily Living

ADLs are basic self-care tasks that we learn from a young age. Depending on the task, your parents may be fully dependent on you (e.g., bathing) or able to do it themselves (e.g., eating). 

  • Walking
  • Feeding
  • Dressing
  • Grooming
  • Toileting
  • Bathing

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living

IADLs are often the first things older adults need help with before requiring support with ADLs. These tasks are necessary for living independently and require more cognitive functioning than ADLs.

  • Bill pay
  • Driving
  • Meal prep
  • Housekeeping
  • Managing medications
  • Grocery shopping
  • Doctor’s appointments

Keep in mind that these tasks evolve. One day your parent may only need you to stand by just in case they need help, while the next week, you may need to do it for them. Monitor their ability to perform different daily tasks, so you know how to best assist them.

4. Ask for Help

The best advice on caring for elderly parents that we can give is to ask for help. Maybe that looks like using a temporary respite care service, asking your parents’ neighbor to check in on them, or sharing the load with other family members. However, your aging parents will eventually reach a point where they need a higher level of care. 

For example, many older adults that get diagnosed with a chronic condition require medication management, monitoring, and other forms of ongoing care that exceed your abilities or comfort level. Besides, you don’t want to burn yourself out trying to be a caregiver and a parent, employee, sibling, child, aunt/uncle, etc. Professionally trained caregivers exist so that you don’t have to be one.

If you’re wondering what to do when your elderly parent needs care, keep reading.

What to Do When Your Elderly Parent Needs Care

My elderly parent needs help, what should I do?” Call Commonwise Home Care.

As a premium in-home care company, we’re passionate about serving the elderly community. Whether you’re local or not, we provide elderly care for parents like yours living in Charlottesville, Richmond, Williamsburg, VA, and Charleston, SC.

Our goal is two-part: (1) preserve the health and independence of older adults so they can age in place safely, (2) and come alongside adult children who need help coordinating care for their aging parents. 

If you’re saying, “I need help with my elderly mother,” but don’t know where to start, give our Care Team a call. Our expert care managers will work with you to assess your aging loved ones’ needs and then recommend the best type of senior care for them, giving you respite and peace of mind.

In-home elder care solutions in Charlottesville, Richmond, Williamsburg, VA, and Charleston, SC.

Contact us for a free assessment