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How to Care for Aging Parents

No one looks forward to the time when they must oversee their parents’ affairs, but there are ways to find balance and help them maintain their dignity.


  • Step 1: Visit, listen, discuss Visit often and talk with your parents. Address healthcare, financial, and housing issues for when they will require more care than you can provide.
  • Step 2: Get support Ask a neighbor or sibling to check on your parents often in your absence. Educate the helper about any medication schedule.
  • Step 3: Buy comfortable clothes Buy parents plastic-waist pants, slip on shoes, and other clothing with Velcro closures to make getting dressed easier.
  • TIP: Accept that you are becoming a surrogate parent to your own parents, and that it will be hard for all of you.
  • Step 4: Prevent burnout Accept help and take breaks from your parents. You need to manage your strength because they rely on your staying healthy.
  • Step 5: Take the keys Guide parents to avoid all but necessary driving. If necessary, have the doctor direct them to quit driving, or disable the car.
  • Step 6: Safety check their house Inspect the house to confirm smoke alarms and locks work, and that parents keep medical alert buttons on them or within reach at all times.
  • TIP: Don’t listen to others’ opinions of your efforts, especially if they come from uninvolved siblings who do not understand your situation.
  • Step 7: Educate yourself Educate yourself on senior services and alternative living facilities in the event your parents have to give up their home.
  • Step 8: Consult elder care attorney Consult an elder care attorney who can advise on a detailed will and set up power of attorney and advance medical directives. Post these in a prominent place in their home.
  • FACT: Recent surveys suggest 22 million U.S. households -- nearly one in four -- are caring for someone 50 or older.

You Will Need

  • Support
  • Comfortable clothes
  • Breaks
  • A physician
  • Education
  • An elder care attorney

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