How Do I Make Caring for an Aging Parent a Little Easier?

Posted by: The Bristal

Dear Maryellen,

I was wondering if you had any ideas to share about how to make caring for an aging parent maybe a little easier – not that it’s ever easy. -Lenore, Oyster Bay, NY

Dear Lenore,

Believe me when I say, this is probably the most common question I get. But luckily, there is a ton of information out there to help families like yours cope. I comb through articles all the time to check on the latest tips and techniques when it comes to eldercare issues, so here are just a few quick ideas that you just may find helpful.

For the most part – except when dealing with extreme health issues – successful eldercare can often be a matter of perspective. Will it strain your patience? Stress you out? Consume a lot of your time? No doubt. But you’d be surprised how maintaining a positive outlook can go a long way toward alleviating what can quickly become an overwhelming flood of doubt and worry.

First of all, ASK FOR HELP. The emotional, physical and financial toll you feel is quite real. Seek out assistance and accept it as it comes. Don’t try doing it all yourself. Insist that your son or daughter get off their phone or computer to watch mom or dad for a while, so you can soak in a long, hot bath. FIND SOCIAL ACTIVITIES. Chances are good your local paper lists an events calendar for seniors. You can also consider Adult Day Care services. Professionals can look after mom or dad at these centers, so you catch up on the errands and activities that are important to you. Have afternoon soccer practice? Take mom or dad along, and make it a scheduled family outing. Yes, it’s a challenge, but the benefits just may outweigh the effort. CONSULT WITH THE MEDICAL TEAM. Monitor your loved one’s healthcare regularly to avoid surprises that can turn your household upside down. Question any conditions and instructions that you don’t understand, and keep track of all records and paperwork. Trust me: An ounce of prevention in these simple ways can save a ton of problems later.

You’re probably thinking to yourself about now: This sounds way too simple. It’s obvious that Maryellen doesn’t know my mom or dad; she hasn’t a clue what I face every day. Well, actually, Lenore, I bet I have a pretty good idea, and I know for a fact that the right perspective, looking for the positive in all things, will make a world of difference. Yes, caring for aging parents is both tiring and demanding, but it doesn’t need to feel like a burden. It can also be a valued privilege.

Maryellen McKeon

*Source:, March 2011

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