ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Caring for an Elderly Mother or Father: A Compassionate Guide to Helping Your Parent

Updated on August 9, 2015
Chris Telden profile image

Chris Telden's B.A. degree in sociology focused on effective quantitative and qualitative methods of cultural analysis.

If your elderly mother or father is no longer able to care for herself or himself, you'll find yourself facing numerous challenges. You must decide what the best caregiving arrangement is for your mom or dad, for yourself, and for your family.

If you are considering doing the caregiving yourself, know that it is not without a cost. A December 2009 study of Canadian caregivers in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry found that baby boomer caregivers taking care of dementia patients on a live-in basis suffered significantly from mental and physical complaints, including fatigue, depression and stress. Stress can have an effect on your health and thus on your ability to care for your family's elders. The stress of adjusting your life may be as great as the adjustment your parent must make as he or she learns how to adapt to a loss of independence.

Here is a guide to help you through this decision-making process. There are tips for how to give good practical care to aging parents while never losing your sense of compassion. Resources are also included if you need to hire a caregiver, get medical and financial assistance, and more.

Decide What Kind of Care Best Suits Your Situation

Figure out exactly what help your parent needs. Even though your mom or dad's mobility or mental capacity may be diminished, they may still be able to do a lot for themselves. Follow the advice of the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) and get your parent's permission to speak with their doctor about their health condition as it relates to:

  • their physical support
  • necessary medical equipment
  • their prescription and over-the-counter medications
  • their dietary needs

Gather essential documents. Keep on hand:

  • all health care providers' names and phone numbers
  • complete list of medications and dosages, with dates that prescriptions expire
  • list of friends and family's names and numbers
  • official identification cards and birth certificates
  • legal documents such as power of attorney, a living will, etc.

Realistically assess whether or not you and your family can take care of your parent yourself. Some questions to ask yourself include:

  • Are you able to physically assist your mother or father in the way he or she needs assistance, such as with bathing, going to the bathroom, eating, etc.?
  • Do you have the time to personally care for your parent?
  • Is your parent willing for you to care for him or her?
  • Are you willing to care for your parent?
  • Can you or your parent afford to hire a caregiver?
  • If you do not live near your parent, are you able to provide long distance help (financial or by making arrangements) for your aging parent?

The answers to these questions will determine whether the safest and best option is for your parent:

  • to live with you while you take care of him or her
  • to live with you simultaneous with hiring a caregiver
  • to live alone with a hired caregiver
  • to move into assisted living
  • to make some other arrangement.

Don't answer the questions hastily. These are complex and difficult issues to face and must be dealt with honestly by everyone involved--including your elderly mother or father.

Tips for Showing Compassion in Your Caregiving

  • Encourage your mother or father to be as independent as possible, for as long as possible.
  • Be supportive of their efforts to maintain parts of their former social life and work. Don't assume that because they're no longer 100 percent independent, they should now become a complete invalid.
  • Use positive language when you speak with your parent, rather than doubtful, negative, and pessimistic language. A positive outlook is more likely to keep your parent feeling positive.
  • Enjoy the time you're spending with your parent. Socialize together and go out as much as possible.
  • Beware of the inevitable emotional conflict. It can be tempting to fight with your elderly mom or dad about the same old things. Your parent is likely to be even more crotchety, critical, and demanding than he or she ever was. Yet now is the time to acquire patience, ease up and put past issues aside.
  • If your mother or father is not very assertive or demanding, they may neglect to tell you when they need something. Remember to check in regularly to make sure their needs are being met.
  • Don't use physical force on your elderly parent. If you get so frustrated you're afraid you'll do physical harm, seek help immediately.
  • It may help if you clarify roles. Your parent may see you now as something of a servant in your role of caregiver. You may see yourself as the one in charge. This disparity in role definitions can cause conflict. As much as possible. make sure you and your parent both share the same idea of your respective roles.
  • Stay healthy, yourself. Some people naturally enjoy taking care of others but find themselves neglecting their own needs. Ultimately, keeping your health optimal is critical to helping a sick, disabled, or impaired-functionality parent.

Get Help When You Need It

The physical, emotional, and financial stress of taking care of your elderly parents can be severe.  Get help when you can no longer do it on your own.

When your mother or father deteriorates, your living arrangements change, the financial burden gets too great, or other circumstances prevent your giving good and effective care, seek assistance.

Call the doctor (or 911 if you need emergency assistance) for help when your parent is showing physical changes. The Department of State cautions you to watch for danger signals such as disorientation, weight loss and strange behavior.

See the links for Elder Care Resources in this article for places you can go for geriatric care and financial assistance.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)