15 Ways to Stay Sane Caring For an Elderly Parent

One of the most emotionally complex and difficult things a person can experience is taking care of an elderly parent. I recently spent time tending to my aging, widowed father, and thought I’d pass along these fifteen points, each of which I found to be significantly helpful during this phase of my own life.

1. Accept that things have changed. When a parent starts in any way depending upon their child, a world has turned upside down. Be prepared for that radically new paradigm. Old roles may not apply; old methodologies may not apply; old emotions may not apply. Be prepared to work from—and write—a whole new script.

2. Take it slowly. Taking care of an elderly parent is generally a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t rush it. You and they both are in uncharted territory. Let the process reveal itself to you; to the degree that you can, let whatever happens unfold organically. As much as you lead what’s happening, follow it.

3. Expect nothing emotionally. At the end phase of their life, your parent might open up to you emotionally and spiritually; they might express for you the love that, for whatever reason, they haven’t before. But they also might not do that; your parent might even more tenaciously cling to their crazy. If as you care for your aging parent you bond with them in a new and deeper way, of course that’s fantastic. But going into caring for them expecting or even hoping for that to happen is to wade into dangerous waters. Better to have no expectations and be surprised, than to have your hopes dashed.

4. Expect their anger. When you start taking care of your parent, they lose the one thing they’ve always had in relationship to you: authority. That’s not going to be easy for them to give up. Expect them, in one way or another, to lash out about that loss.

5. Give them their autonomy. Insofar as you can, offer your parent options instead of orders. It’s important for them to continue to feel as if they, and not you, are running their lives. Let them decide everything they can about their own care and situation.

6. Ask their advice. A great way to show your parent love and respect—and, especially, to affirm for them that they are still of true value to you—is to sincerely ask them for advice about something going on in your life.

7. Separate their emotional dysfunction from their cognitive dysfunction. Insofar as you can, through your conversations and interactions with your parent, learn to distinguish between their emotional and cognitive dysfunction. The patterns of your parent’s emotional dysfunctions will probably be familiar to you; those, you’ll know how to deal with. But their cognitive dysfunctioning will probably be new to you. Track it; react to it gingerly; discuss it with your parent’s health care providers. Mostly just be aware that it’s new, and so demands a new kind of response. This is a part of the process where it’s good to remember point 2.

8. Love your health care providers. During this phase of your life you don’t have better friends than those helping you care for your parent. Cleaning person; social worker; physical therapist; nurse; doctor; caring neighbor—treat well each and every person who plays any role whatsoever in caring for your parent. When they think of your parent, you want everyone involved in their care to have good, positive thoughts; you want them to want to care well for your mom or dad. Steady kindness, and little gifts here and there, can go a long way toward ensuring that’s how they feel.

8. Depend upon your spouse. You may find that your parent is more comfortable relating to your spouse than to you. Though that can certainly hurt your feelings, don’t let it. It’s simply because your parent doesn’t share with your spouse all the baggage they do with you; mainly, they’ve never been the dominate force in your spouse’s life. Your spouse and your parent are peers to a degree that you and your parent can never be. Let that work for you. Depend upon your spouse to be as instrumental in the care of your parent as he or she wants to be.

9. Protect your buttons. No one in this world knows your emotional buttons like your mom or dad does. Surround those buttons with titanium cases and lock them away where your parent couldn’t find them with a Rorschach test. Unless he or she is an extraordinarily loving and mature person, your parent is bound to at least once try to push your buttons, if only to establish their erstwhile dominance over you. Don’t let them do it. You might owe them your care; you don’t owe them your emotional well-being. With your parent, let “No buttons for you!” be your motto.

10. Prepare for sibling insanity. Expect the worst from your sibling/s. For perfectly understandable reasons, many people go positively bonkers when their parents start to die. Money; childhood mementos; furniture and possessions from the family house; money; diversified assets; money; the will … you get the idea. Prepare for the coming crazy. Do not participate in it yourself. Insofar as you must, of course protect yourself. But no amount of money on earth is worth your dignity.

12. Take care of yourself. It’s so easy to surrender to the care of your aging parent more of your life than you should. But you serve well neither yourself nor them if you fail to take walks; to stretch out; to eat right; to make sure you spend quality time away from them. Make taking time to rejuvenate yourself as critical a part of your care routine for your parent as you do cooking their meals or making sure they take their meds. Your life still needs to be about you.

13. Talk to a friend. If you have a friend with whom you can regularly meet and talk, or even chat with on the phone, do it. During this time the input and love of a friend is invaluable to you. Sharing what you’re going through with someone not immediately involved with it can be like a life preserver when you’re bobbing in the ocean. As soon as you get involved with tending to your parent, call your best friend, and tell them that you’re going to be depending upon them to do what friends do best: care, and listen.

14. Have fun. One of the things we most need in life is the one thing we most readily jettison once we begin caring for an elderly parent: fun. Fun! Have some! Have lots! Rent a Marx Brothers movie. Wear a goofy hat. Make your parent wear a goofy hat—when they’re sleeping, maybe! Whatever it takes. But remember: a day without fun is like a day where you almost go to jail for pushing your old mom or dad down a stairwell. Whenever, wherever, and however you can, truly enjoy.

15. Pray/meditate. Life doesn’t offer a lot more emotionally salient or complex than caring for an aging parent. Accordingly, then, open yourself up to God, whatever that might mean to you. Be sure to with some regularly get down on your knees, or sit comfortably in a quiet place; close your eyes; breathe deeply and slowly; and wait to come over you the peace that surpasses understanding. What you’re undergoing with your parent right now is bigger than you, your parent, or anyone else involved. Do not fail to avail yourself of the great and mighty source from whose perspective it has all, already, been resolved.

 

Also: Recognizing When Your Elderly Parent has Dementia.

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is co-founder of The NALT Christians Project and founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here). His blog is here. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • Tim

    Great points. Everyone of them. Especially 15.

  • Mary

    John, thank you so much for this. Thank you for turning your overwhelmingly negative experience into something that all of us can use. This means the world to me, especially today. My Mom woke this morning confused, and she called me on my cell to come down. She had woken in the middle of a dream, and was just a bit mixed up. I talked to her for a bit. I made her a cup of coffee and got her something to eat.

    She said, “Oh thank you, Mary Liz. I just didn’t know what to do. I was confused.” I kissed her on the forehead (right on her huge cancer scar) and said, “I love you, Mama. It’s all OK.”

    And yes, we bought her a santa hat with leopard trim for Christmas and made her wear it at least once.

    John, I am going to print what you wrote. Thank you so much for helping me love my Mom even more than I already did.

    Mary

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      wow. thank you, Mary.

  • Mary
    • Julie

      Mary, that is just too cute. Bless your mom!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      To infinity, and beyond!

  • Jennie

    Thanks for this, John — I’m in the middle of it these days and appreciate all the advice I can get. I especially have trouble with the the way some people (not all) treat the elderly. I take my Dad around to doctor appointments, etc., and people inevitably talk to me like he’s not there, like he’s not still the very smart, completely competent doctor that he is. I always direct their attention to him and say, “He’s a doctor — he gets this stuff better than me. ” And yes, he can be cranky and demanding, and definitely has some issues, but I do what you said — protect those buttons and don’t let it get to me. That always softens his attitude eventually.

    My mom is going blind, so appears also less competent and with it than she really is. It grieves me to see people’s misperception of both of them. I feel like saying sometimes, “If you only knew how brilliant and adventurous, and accomplished these two have been.”

    Thanks for your insight. The stuff you have written on your dad has been heart wrenching! Praying that someday he will know what you’ve tried to do for him.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Yeah, what IS that people do around old people? It’s so insane. They either don’t talk to them directly at all, or, worse, they talk to them like they’re children. It’s so crazy. But, as you say, it’s not everyone. But it’s too many people, for sure.

      You know what else I see happen all the time? People mistake an old person’s VOICE for an indication of their mental state. You get those old people, and their voice gets all croaky and raspy sounding, and the next thing you know, people are treating them like their MINDS are cranky and raspy. I guess people just aren’t that good, sometimes, at making the quick distinction between between presentation and substance.

      Anyway, sounds like you’re doing a great job with your parents. Congratulations on that. If you’re doing the best you can, you’re righting yourself with God and your future conscience. That’s the game, right there.

    • mary

      Thanks Jennie

      I totally understand. I did not quite get age discrimination until my mom went into the hospital. These so called medical professionals are so into themselves that they respond to the elderly in a weird disassociative way.

  • Mindy

    John, you are such a gift. To so many. I have two close friends who are dealing closely with their elderly parents right now, both of whom have different levels of dementia to make life even more interesting. They both found the following very eye-opening and quite useful. They have embraced this attitude and it has helped both of them immensely.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/01/health/01care.html?_r=1

    Bless you, friend.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      What a terrific article. Thanks for sharing it, Mindy. Send my love and blessings to your friends, please.

  • http://flavors.me/danikelley Dani Kelley

    This is about to come in handy. My dad’s quite young (52) but was just diagnosed with cancer…3 weeks after his father unexpectedly died. We’ll see how things go.

  • Mary

    Thanks for the insights! They are great reminders…………I especially like 12 and 14. Have had parent for almost 18 years and without reminders like yours, it is easy to become frustrated and angry… at parent, self and siblings.

  • Illona Rhodes

    Oh my God John, You are hittin’ on all cylinders! I needed to read this…and I needed to read it tonight. Thank you. I can’t wait to see how mom looks in her party hat tonight.

    I love you!

    Illona

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Okay, but if she wakes up, and starts hollering about who in the world had the nerve to put a goofy hat on her while she was asleep, I do NOT want my name coming up. The idea of that woman being truly angry STILL scares me.

  • Aric

    My grandmother passed two years ago after a long battle with Parkinson’s. My grandfather was there every moment, taking care of her every need. It was a sad, but fitting end to their 62 year love affair. Unfortunately, those years of constantly taking care on someone have broken down my grandfather as well, and he is now more and more dependent on my mother, my wife and I. Last month he had a bad fall, and is now in the middle of a long physical therapy stint. It has not gone well, and his attitude has been getting worse as the days pass, and though we have tried to stay positive the strain is starting to show on all of us. These fifteen thoughts are more than we could ever ask for, and your timing for posting these is literally a Godsend. Thank you John.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Oh, my goodness. Well, thank you, Aric. And God bless you and your family.

  • http://www.homecarenetworkinc.com Deborah

    I own and operate a home care agency in Alberta and am assisting with my elderly parents, this is well written and holds nothing but truth. I may borrow it if thats ok? for my clients.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Yes, that’s great; thank you for asking. If you wouldn’t mind, credit me–just put “copyright, johnshore.com” at the bottom of the sheet somewhere (assuming you end up printing it out). Thank you.

  • Robin Wevick

    John

    Thank you for writing this article, everything you wrote is right on target. I have been caring for my Mother who suffers from Dementia for over three years. In 2007 she suffered a severe stroke and the determination was made that she would never be able to live without 24/7 care. No one is ever prepared for these types of life situations, and you learn as you live through it. The feelings of isolation, fatigue, and the time and energy that is required to care for Elderly Parents is overwhelming.

    The hardest aspect for me, has been dealing with the feelings of abandonment on the part of my two brothers, and extended family. My husband and I laughed out loud reading # 14 Prepare for sibling insanity, and we could add to what you described in your article. Our situation is less about any assests Mother has or in her case doesn’t have, it’s more about, one sibling (that would be me) having the entire responsibility of Mother’s care, and everyone else seems to think that their lives are more important than mine and more that of my Husbands. We have been married for thirty one years, and we were loving life, content and happy, looking forward to exploring all the possibilities that our future was to bring.

    It is safe to say, if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans!!! Everyday I have asked myself, what is the lesson to be learned, and I can tell you there are plenty. I have learned to not have expectations of others, because it is a road to despair. I only have expectations of self. I have learned more about character or lack of character on the part of some, than I ever cared to know about, and I have learned about perserverance and faith and patience.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences and this insightful article.

    May peace be with you always.

    Robin

  • DR

    Very helpful reminder today, thank you. xoxo

  • Dirk

    Thank you. Your 15 Ways really hit the mark.

    The conflicts among siblings are, beyond a doubt, the one area which is most dysfunctional and least capable of finding any positive resolution.

    Before our parents needed help, I tried to sit down with my brothers and their wives to discuss how we’d deal with things. Their response: Your queer, you’re going to h ell and your opinion is not wanted.

    When the first major crisis arose several years back, they seized the opportunity to tell our parents I was going to put them in a home and take their money.

    Scared, hurting and not thinking clearly, our folks fell for it and withdrew all my limited powers of attorney, etc. My siblings didn’t jump in to replace me, they just did the damage.

    That one took two years of diligent work (and help from the family law firm which puts my parents’ interests first) and their lead doctor to fix up.

    Now we are facing the next round of problems, the spiral spinning ever faster downward as they age, the plateaus come less and less often. I’m now the one doing the daily care and the heavy lifting with my partner while the good Christian side of the family only stops by, infrequently, to complain that we are making too many decisions, taking over their lives (since one parent can no longer even read the labels on her medications and the other has days when he can’t feed himself, this rings hollow with the professional health care providers). We are living in our wicked sin under their roof – my legal husband in Canada and life partner for 27 years now and I bought the house next door after my mom had a bad fall and now have an office there and one of us is always at home.

    I’ll cut it short. The good ‘Christians’ among the siblings do nothing but make our lives miserable, ignore our parents for most of the year, upset them when they do visit.

    Just after Christmas, my oldest sister in law let us know they’d be fighting the will, it not being fair that we inherit one third of the estate. Homosexuals are entitled to nothing, they and my other brother have children and deserve the entire estate. It’s sizable, to be sure…but inheriting means our parents have died for one, and, two, we’re all independently financially secure.

    I countered that one by removing myself as executor and having my dad appoint an old family friend, a retired county judge to the role. It’ll slow them down a great deal, but sure upset my father. His body is failing, his mind is not.

    Things are bad now, I can’t imagine what they’ll be like after they die.

    What has helped, enormously, has been to treat the legal and nursing and other professionals well. They really make the difference in our parents’ health and my husband’s and my sanity.

    Your guide is great. It’s a pity, but when my parents die, that will be the absolute end of our blood family.

  • Sara

    I cared for my dad the last 2 of his 16 year bout with Alzheimers. He was totally bedfast, a raving 24/7 screaming, dangerous menace. At 6’4″ and 200lbs, he was incredibly strong. He hurt my mom several times before they moved in with me.

    Given the abuse he dealt us kids growing up, I hated him with a pure hatred. If it had been left up to me, he would have been institutionalized and the key thrown away. However, I was terrified that he would severely injure or kill my mom as she cared for him. She went down sick and was no longer able to care for his medical and personal needs, so it fell to me.

    It was a blessing in disguise. In hindsight, I’m really glad I had those 2 years to learn to forgive him and to let go of the hatred. My oldest brother (who also came in for heavy abuse) helped me pick out good traits that we had learned from dad and those are the memories I choose to keep. He died in 2002.

    Since then, I cared for my mom til she passed away from cancer in 2009. Now I’m taking on my dad’s sister who is descending into Alzheimers. It’s going to be a real struggle because she wants to live independently and is NOT in favor of POA’s or any other type of help.

    Thank you for this series John. Your grace under pressure was inspiring. My prayers are with you too.

    • Sara

      An update – I should have re-read your 15 points again John, especially the one on Buttons.

      My aunt found my Red Hot Button and jumped on it with both feet. After some severe inconvenience on my part to get her moved from Alabama to south Texas, she then accused me of stealing from her. She didn’t say anything to me – instead she called numerous (uninvolved) family members and a couple family friends, to let them know I had somehow taken her for over $4000. Then she went to the social worker at her senior apartment complex with the tale. The social worker then called me…

      Upshot is – I had to turn her over to Adult Protective Services because she will not accept help with her finances from me (and now I won’t do it) and she has completely lost control of them. Thankfully the family friends and the social worker spoke up for me with APS, and let them know the truth of the situation.

      So …a word of caution…keep very careful records of expenditures. Thankfully I had!

    • mary

      Hello.

      I am the youngest child as well and I found this site. My mom is 80 years old I love her dearly and I am trying my best to keep her at home. My older sister is not much help but I take what she offers. She is in the hospital at this time, and I feel like the hospital wants me to put her in a nursing home. I have had to engage them several times as they keep stating “well she is older” What does “older” MEAN? She deserves to live in comfort and to have the best medical care. Oh I forgot to mention that I am a Registered Nurse and has caught this major hospital slacking on her care. Be careful people there seems to be a undercurrent against continuing to provide competent medical care even after the family has requested that everything be done to substain their loved ones life and Thank you for writing this blog. I would like to mention that I am divorce with 2 kids in my late 30′s and sometimes I feel like I have been short changed by my sister who I always thought was the martiarch of the family, but now everyone thinks that I am. crazy huh. I know I sound very scattered but that is how I feel. Just needed to vent. Thanks for listening.

  • wilfred

    i wish it can work on my 85yrs old ghanaian dad

  • tor

    WOW is about all I can say,,, I care for my mother shes 83 and has Dementia,, I really wish people would stop telling me “oh thats just nice words for Alzheimers” cause I have asked the dr. He agrees,, mothers short term memory is failed a bit. BUT her memories of the past are almost as sharp today as they where years ago.

    BUT I want to thank you Mr Shore,, From your Gay Talks to this interesting subject, I post many of your things to my facebook page,, always welcomed by many many of my friends there.

    Now I am living with mother, with a brother with Asburgers, he hates me ,, but helps with mother if I have to do something,, like TRY To make a living on the weekends at the flea market, you see mother really cant be left for very long alone. She loves to visit with people, and if someone gets her to open the door, she will let them in to talk with them,. soo I struggle along, my retirement account empty,, the house my brother is half owner in now, thanks to his sly tactics, so when mother is gone, I will have a nice bridge somewhere to live, BUT I will also have the knowing that I did the best I could for her while she was with me.

    BIG Bear Hugs from me ,,

    Charlotte Bear Dinner on Facebook

    Tor

  • Anne

    I wish I had guidlines like this when I was caring for my mother several years ago. She passed away after a horrific battle with Alzhiemers, and 4 years later, I really don’t think I have recovered. All of this rings very true for me, and I am hopeful that other caregivers will benefit by reading this. Thank you for putting this out there.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rowenaferg Rowena Ferguson via Facebook

    This is fabulous John. Thank you. I assume I can share?

  • Lisa Metzler via Facebook

    THANK YOU!!!! As an only child (and single to boot), there is a lot here for me…good message!

  • http://www.facebook.com/JohnShoreFans John Shore via Facebook

    Row: Yeah, of course: it’s good if people who might use this could … have it. Share away. thanks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nwbuckeye Pat Hux via Facebook

    excellent advice. been there. only no siblings to share/content with. and now i’m pushing 70 and heading there on the other side of it one day…. you forgot one thing…. oh, please, let it be quick! lol

  • Mary Wisner Miller via Facebook

    I am living this right now. So if anyone else wants to talk, feel free to IM me on Facebook.

  • Bmac

    Thanks so much for this John. My mother is caring for my grandmother and has been for ten years. She is under so much stress! I’m forwarding this to her.

  • Michelle Woods via Facebook

    What about caring for your disabled child while caring for your aging parents? That’s where I’m headed

  • louise

    Thank you John this is spot on. I had a sister diagnosed with dementia at 49–she passed away at 62. I was carer for my mother who was never easy and she hit all the points you mentioned before she passed away at 87. I now am carer for my MIL who is a frail 83. Your advice is a blessing and so exactly right. Honouring our parents is not always easy but is right and with help from people like you it makes the day-to-day possible.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Well, that’s lovely to say, Louise. Thank you. Sounds like you have a LOT of experience with these sorts of things, God bless your heart.

  • Allie

    Thanks, John. I’m not quite there with my parents but getting there. My father needs to have his driving privileges restricted, and I don’t know what to do about it. I feel that he literally would decide to die (and he is far more fragile physically than mentally) if he couldn’t drive down for breakfast with the other old pilots every morning. But he drove over their lawn furniture the other day because “the brake was stuck” (mechanic found nothing wrong). He gets confused and seems to have to work really hard to remember where he is when he’s navigating, and I don’t think he sees at all well at night. I want him to give up driving before an accident, not after one.

    Compounding this is my mother, who is desperately in denial and wants to believe he is as well as he ever was. I have no authority in my relationship with her and never have and she gets downright hostile if anyone hints that my father has trouble. She actually told me my father could still whip my ass in a fight if it came to that. Which pretty much sums up everything about everything, that she thinks that’s a sensible thing to say.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Oh, yikes. I mean … there’s nothing you can do, besides hope upon hope that next time there’s no one sitting in that lawn furniture. My dad’s the same way. He won’t not drive. And when he drives it’s like a bomb being randomly pushed out of a plane: you don’t know exactly when or where it’s gonna hit—but you know it’s gonna be bad, and people are gonna get hurt. And there’s jack you can do about it. Awful. Sorry you’re going through that.

    • http://deeplanguage.blogspot.com/ Pam

      Call the department of motor vehicles and report that he shouldn’t be driving. Or write a letter to his doctor–the doctor can’t talk with you without permission but can take in information.

      • Allie

        Thank you, Pam. Kind of a moot point now as shortly after this my father had a stroke and is now well past driving, since he’s lost vision in the left field of both eyes and remains a little nutty. I could write a whole new letter about our current circumstances!

  • Dave Bowling via Facebook

    John: Many thanks for posting this … I had not seen it before and now am responsible for an aging mother after having just lost my father. I think I will print this on my heart so I can remember the words of wisdom when appropriate. Very timely!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Good deal, Dave. Great to hear from you, as always.

  • http://yahoo.com Jim

    Thank you for the information. My parents have both passed on. I took care of my mother for bout 10 years along with my dad before she passed away. She suffered from mental illness for most of her life and toward the end became paranoid schizophrenic. That made her hard to deal with at times but I never stopped loving her, so when she was near the end of her life I told her it was ok to let go. That was the hardest thing I ever had to do and hurt very much for the two weeks prior to her death. After she passed I then took care of my dad for about a year and a half during whcih time we became best friends. He made it two weeks past my 56th birthday before he passed away. Because of the deepening of our relationship I hurt very deeply for about a year and a half after he passed. I found that being the caregiver wasn’t a burden but more of ahsared effort with him which help me out considerably. I still miss my parents but I know that I will see them again.

  • cyndi cole

    John…I really enjoyed the 15 things..I am curently struggling with the lifr decision of moving 1500 miles away from my husband to care for my mother who has had 2 strokes now. This decision hasnt been an easy one..but financially she cannot afford the in home care. I feel overwhelmed by it all. She requires at best part time care but would be better with around the clock care. Noone else in the family helps or even cares and most days I feel very alone. There isnt a handbook for these situations but reading your article helped me to feel I am not alone. So..Thank you.

    • doris

      i say prayers for all of us who need a friend while caring for our parents.

  • doris

    i have been taking care of my mum for 5 yrs. now,and every once in awhile she say ,i am going to go to a senior center to live. ok,i am fine with it,but she changes her mind, then i get frustrated .i have left my home for this time and have not been able to work outside the home we live in.how can i make plans to go forward and backwards at the same time?i thank you for taking the time to let others know they are not alone.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rebecca.j.lucas.1 Rebecca Johnson Lucas via Facebook

    wow – exactly what I needed right now. Thanks John, one more time :)

  • Adriana Maldonado via Facebook

    My mom took care of grandma who also had Alzheimer’s.
    Few know the plight of a person who is their parent’s caregiver.

  • Lorraine

    Thank you so very much for this. I am an only child. My mother has always been emotionally manipulative and I have always allowed it. She is now in a nice assisted living facility but tries on a near daily basis to make me feel guilty or responsible for her situation. I love her but there are days when I feel like washing my hands of all of it. Number 9 was meant for me. Thank you, again.

  • http://www.facebook.com/deborah.doehr.kim Deborah Doehr Kim via Facebook

    Thanks, John. This is the thoughtful advice I wish I’d had when my parents’ health declined. Sharing for sure!

  • Laura Ichikawa via Facebook

    Thanks for this post!! I really needed it!!

  • Kirk Childress via Facebook

    I just spent a month caring for my 90-something grandparents and my uncle with whom they live. [he was recuperating from colon surgery.] all I can say, is you’ve got that advice nailed. especially the part about loving healthcare providers. The homecare specialists [nurses & techs] were definitely a god-send. They deserve our love and care, but it doesn’t have to come at the cost of our sanity.

  • http://deeplanguage.blogspot.com/ Pam

    Imagine what it is like when it is your spouse rather than your parent. I am 57 years old and my husband (10 years older) has Parkinson’s disease with the beginning of dementia.

  • Diana

    Such sage advice! After the summer we’ve had with my husband’s mother, these are words to live by. Thank you.

  • Russell Corbett via Facebook

    I neded this today!

  • Heather Brist via Facebook

    I’m sending this around. It seems this came at the perfect timing.

  • Theresa DePaepe

    Spent two years going through this with my (abusive) father before he died. It brought us siblings closer together for a time – it was actually one of the few times in our lives that we worked together as a team because we didn’t have our alcoholic father pitting us against one another. For me, #9 is the most important item on the list. Oh, and the fact that we gave care to my father that he didn’t deserve, left me feeling better about myself – I know now that I am a better person than he ever was for the love and care that I gave him at his end of life.

    • Linda

      Amen!

  • Lisa Metzler via Facebook

    LOVE IT!!!!!! Sharing!

  • Becky Padgett

    Thank you for sharing this on target experience and advise. My 2 sisters and I have been working together for 2 years. One sister is a church goer, the other wants nothing to do with God, church, any thing faith based. My relationship with Mom has not always been harmonious. So this life phase has it’s challenges, even on a good day. I am single and they are not. They have a back up income and live closer to Mom than I do. (I live 65 miles away and take the weekend shift.) My daily prayer, meditation, and belief in the grace of God, is invaluable and the only thing that makes this work. Bless you for understanding and standing in the gap with us.

    • Victoria Fleming

      Very sound advice there. I’m currently caring for my mother who has early onset Alzheimer’s and probably the hardest thing to prepare for is the constant juggling between work and care. You need to work to pay for the care, but you need to be around to manage the care. This all got me thinking about how other working women manage their own juggling act and whether they’ve found their employer to be supportive or otherwise. I’ve now turned this pondering into a dissertation topic and am really keen to hear from any other working women who also provide unpaid dementia care. I’d love to hear your story.

  • Beckie

    Thanks for the good advice! My sister and I are caring for my mother at this time after a stroke she had in July. It’s been a very challenging summer. My sister and I have become closer as a result of caring together for our mother. I love #9, it’s definitely going to help me. Thank you again and passing along to my sister and friends. B

  • Michael Smith

    Thanks so much for the wonderful words of advice. I am caring for my mother who has Alzheimer’s. I teach as an adjunct but the day is coming when I will be needed 24/7. Pray for me that I will grow in grace.

  • melanie

    Thanks for sharing your experiences – they really helped me today, I’ve just got to be the best I can from now on.

  • Paul

    Thank you for your writing your thoughts. There are times when I’m just hanging on. Both my parents are very demanding. When I’m coping with

    one the other starts. I’m always tired. I pray always for the strength to get through the day. Some days are better then some. The thing I so not like about the situation is that you start to change. If you are not careful you start getting hard but hang on. God bless you all

    • Linda

      I hear you, Paul. I worry all the time about my bitterness. It’s hard to control. I don’t have any words of wisdom today, but I understand.

      • Claudette

        I feel myself falling into this state of despair. It looks like anger and I am angry but there is more to it. Is the rest of my life a care taking roller coaster with parent and grandchild? One day at a time and one moment at a time. I would like to be more strategic about self care and I wish for more fun, friends and recreation but am too tired. I, too, understand.

        • Linda

          I hear you. I have good days and bad (yesterday wasn’t so great.) I get frustrated with myself for losing control of my emotions but it’s hard not to feel despair when I can’t see an end in sight.

          Hang in there – I pray for you and for all of us.

          Linda

  • http://www.crossfitproper.com/lokahiyoga/2013/03/12/inversion-fun/ removal process

    Very good website you have here but I was wanting to know if you knew of any forums that cover the same

    topics discussed in this article? I’d really like to be a part of group where I can get comments from other knowledgeable people that share the same interest. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Appreciate it!

  • Janice Whitehead

    Thank you for this article. I have shared it with several people who have also been grateful for it. For those of you who are caring for a parent with any sort of dementia, I came across a facebook group called “Memory People” which has been quite helpful as a place to get advice, vent, and just not feel so alone during a difficult time and looking a terrible disease straight in the face.

  • Becky

    Hi,

    I found your article to be of much encouragement. Its like someone wrong down exactly how I feel inside. I have been appliying the principles for as long as i could in caring with my 63 yr old mom, who has stroke and 66 yr old dad who is thank God with no ailments – but alas it hasnt help fix things at all. My parents quarrel everyday. Every single day. Profanity, name calling and egos flare each day. They view each other as threat, as enemies that need to be avoided at all cost. Ever since my mother had the stroke, she has become very vocal, and would just speak out her mind without considering the consequences. She feels like she has been running the family all her life without my father’s participation, which is not enturely true. this picture works up in her mind every day and is blowing out of proportion. My father in return uses all foul language and berates my mom in retaliation to her complaints. All this is shifted to us children. Being the eldest at 30yrs old, I am at a loss of how else to handle home, and carreer and ultimately my life amidst all this. I haven’t got a relationship of my own because of this and I work long hours to pay house bills. Home stress and severe asthma is really taking a toll on my physical and mental health. Realtives are staying a step away from our family because they don’t want their interference to result in a big fight (little do they know, Fight hapens all the time). I dont know how to involve my pastor as my father has not gone to church for a good 20 years. Mom is prayerful but soemtimes i honestly feel, how can u be prayerful but have so much hatred and unforgiveness in your heart?

    We all love our parents. And as they grow older and the tables are turned on the roles, most of us would gladly accept and try to keep them happiest in their golden years. I am from Asia and filial piety is a huge portion of our culture. We live with our parents till their passing. But dealing with parents whho want a final say in their lives and EVERYONE else’s life is difficult. When we put it back to then that we need some freedom of our own, they feel they are rejected, and start crying. Seeing a parent cry is makes their child really guilty. But it wasnt our fault in any way….

    Could some one share with me a solution if you are in a similar boat like mine pls? Would be very appreciative if you do so… thank you all, and its a good feeling to be able to let out some emotions once in a while.

    Thank you John Shore once again for this article. GOD BLESS YOU ALL :)

    • Allie

      All I can offer is sympathy. In my case it’s my mother who isn’t handling my father’s stroke well.

      A little bit of hope, though: it’s not unusual for people who have suffered a stroke to go through a period of what is called emotional lability. What that means is that they don’t have the usual amount of control adults have over their emotions and inappropriate emotions come out all the time, crying, anger, sex. Usually this is temporary. So hopefully if you just hang in there, your mom will start to behave more like her old self soon and you will get some of your life back.

      You sound so tired. Please don’t be shy about asking people for help. Sympathetic friends need to be asked directly: I am tired, I need help, could you please watch mother on Saturday mornings? If you can’t get help from friends or your church, you need professional help. Even a day a week can make a huge difference to your ability to cope and is not that expensive.

      God be with you.

  • Lisa

    This little bit of reading gave me a whole lot of understanding. Thank you for sharing this. The first six tips immediately gave me great insight.

    As a comment said above, I too am an only child. I didn’t realize this was a common sentiment, which helps ease the guilt I feel.

    I know now I’m not alone in this sad journey. I want to be a good daughter to my parent, and this will help. Knowledge is key.

  • Holly

    Hi, I’m currently taking care of my 72 yr old mother in law. She lives with my husband and me. He works so I stay home to care for her. She suffered a stroke last October and wasn’t caught right away. She now lives with limited mobility and relies on me alot. She is down in a wheelchair now after falling many times with a walker. The things you wrote are to children that takes care of their elderly parents by mine isn’t here. So she is the one I consider my Mother now. This helped me a lot I hope that I can apply this to our sitution and us be OK together. Thanks

  • Gayle

    I too would love to hear about any forums that deal with the guilt and difficulty of caring for an elderly parent.

  • Maureen

    Sometimes it is like a bad dream, I know she will never get better that she is on a good day.

    I take care of my mother who is 78. She has dementia and nph. She has no filter and what she thinks comes out full blast. She lives with me. I have no break except when I go to work. I have no life, no one to confide in about how torn I am because I both love her dearly and find she at times is so exhausting. I wish there were outlets or websites or something. Parenting your parent is a very lonely job

  • Mark McRoberts

    Oh John, I wish I had had this decades ago. I have been caring for my father and now mother for since 1988. I’m tired, and if I am not worn out caring for my parents the last 8 years have been so tough caring for my mother. I have “covered” for her for so long. And this has been especially difficult as she was always ashamed of me being gay. As a matter of fact she within the cloud of dementia but in front of a nurse she talked about me getting a nice girl. I just said that that was never going to happen. But John I am an adult survivor of child abuse (not from parents). I have a brain tumor and severe arthritis. I raised my niece as my daughter due to the lack of parental involvement. I exist on a family farm out in the middle of nowhere. I have given so much of my life to the family farm, my parents and family duties. I’m done. I don’t have much inside. I’m so weary that I can’t even hide much anymore. I try to keep going to church weekly as it is my only “fill-up.” I don’t know how much backbone I have left.

  • Sher

    I have a passive aggressive father who never wanted to deal with anything, or deal with change, and a mother who seems sometimes borderline and sometimes like a narcissist, and all my life I have had to look after her, one way or another. Everything frustrates her and she lashes out anytime she doesn’t get her way. My father is stubborn and will not comply with doctor’s orders and never wants to try anything new, and today is not a good day. I just said that I am through trying and whatever happens will happen, I know that I have compassion overload, and I cannot keep dealing with this. My own health is suffering and I haven’t had time to see a doctor in over seven years. Everyday there is something new that I have to deal with and I never catch up. My to do list just keeps growing. Needless to say, I have no life whatsoever.

  • KyPerson

    I’m caring for my dear father who has dementia. I am living with him and also working full time and teaching a class as an adjunct. It seems as though all I do is care for him and work. Time for me is all but non existent. And I have 8 siblings, 5 of whom live in town. They might do a little bit here and there, but the bulk of care falls on me. I have a tendency to worry and stress too much as it is, and I am having periods of depression. Prayer helps, but there are times I fear I will go directly from caregiver to someone who needs care (I’m 63).

  • Kiana

    Thank you for this John and
    for the posts of all my fellow caregivers. I’m an only child who takes care of
    my 85 year old mother while being married (for 30 years), work full-time and
    mother to now young adults. And before my Mom, I took care of my Dad who had suffered
    a stroke and was in a wheel chair for 10 years. Then I helped manage the care
    of my husband’s step-mother and then his father who passed 2 weeks shy of his
    100th birthday. This process has and continues to be a constant
    juggle and struggle. And lately, the light moments have been few and far
    between not just because of my caregiving duties but other life issues.

    In any case, I realize that
    in the end this period in my life will be considered a privilege despite the
    negatives that I’m dealing with now. But maybe it’s because I’m tired and aging
    too, it feels like every day that I “give” now just seems to be a “taking” from
    my own life.

    I pray constantly for a
    variety of things like strength, relief, peace, and good health for myself,
    just to name a few. But I have now accepted that my mother won’t get any better
    but will just decline with age. I guess what I should be praying for is the
    wisdom to recognize the good days when they come and find strength, relief and
    peace from those moments. Then maybe I can better manage my time in taking care
    of myself so that I can deal fully when the bad days inevitably arise.

    Seeing the posts of all my
    fellow caregivers got me thinking. Through the years, I have seen national
    campaigns like the War on Drugs, Fighting Obesity, Help the Homeless, etc., but
    it seems from the amount and content of these posts coupled with the aging of
    Baby Boomers like myself who care for their aging parents that we need some
    sort of large scale national awareness.

    I’m not asking for a telethon
    or some government-run Center for Caregivers. But it would just be so great if
    someone of authority or Madison Avenue (or even Hallmark for godsake!) can just
    nationally recognize caregivers for aging parents and tell us that we’re not
    alone and what we are doing is something good and if needed tell us, “here’s
    where you would go for help” like some sort of one-stop shopping organization, website,
    center, agency, or just somewhere that a caregiver like me could go to that would
    address a variety of needs like

    Support (links to different types of support groups,
    counselors or social workers that may specialize in advising caregivers of
    aging parents).

    Respite care (links to possible ways/resources to help with
    respite care)

    Reference material (lists of books, articles, websites etc.
    that concentrate on caregiving of aging parents)

    Spiritual (links to spiritual prayers or poems that would
    encourage and strengthen a caregiver of aging parents)

    Blogs (links to sites like this one where the message is to
    inform and to uplift). If I could, I would start a blog for caregivers to post
    the “one good thing that happened to me today while care giving for my aged
    parent.” I think if we’re reminded of the positive things that can happen even
    if they are few and far between, the easier the negative days will be. Then
    maybe, just maybe care “giving” won’t seem so much like a “taking” from our own
    lives.