Caring for your Parents

You know your parents deserve the best level of care possible when it becomes evident that they can no longer provide that care for themselves like they could in years past. Deciding to broach the subject of an assisted living facility, in-home care by a Geriatric Nurse or Elder Care Team, or even moving your parents into your own home can be a hard decision to make. It is even harder to tell your parents that you feel they are not able to provide their own care. This is a decision many families are facing, especially in light of the Baby Boomer generation growing older.

If you have chosen to bring your parent or parents into your home in order to maintain their feeling of independence and assure everyone that they are receiving the best care possible, you are not alone. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, 2.3 million elderly parents were living with their kids in the year 2000. By last year, the number had jumped to 3.6 million. This “boom” is creating a bigger need for families to come together in order to provide care for their senior members, whether through specialized facilities or professionals like Geriatric Nurses.

In order to make the transition as smooth as possible, keep in mind that you and your parents are, in a sense, switching your roles. While you were a child, they were responsible for meeting your basic needs, such as preparing meals, washing clothes, etc. As your parent enters your household, their role is different and they may feel that they have to put forth more effort in order to “earn their keep,” or care for you as they did when you were a child. You, on the other hand, may have struggles with maintaining your own independence and authority within the household. This role reversal may be difficult for everyone, but it is definitely manageable if you are well-prepared and both sides are willing to compromise.

Some ways to make the experience easier is by involving your parents in the household decisions you are comfortable with. Meal planning and shopping, scheduling time for medical appointments and activities, transportation, caring for pets and plants can all be a “group effort,” giving each party a voice in the overall decision-making within those realms of the household. If your parent is able to contribute financially, then give them the ability to feel they are part of the household, even if you do not need the money. If they are able to take on household chores, allow them to do what is within their physical ability. Be sure to check with your parents’ medical professional or Geriatric Nurse to learn what activities are most beneficial and least strenuous to their health.

Giving your parents the freedom to function within their new household, while keeping your own independence, is the balance needed when bringing your elderly parents into your house. The benefits of caring for your parents during their "golden years" are numerous and long-lasting, and a way to thank them for the care they provided to you during your own childhood.