Family Caregiving

Finding A Balance When Caring For An Aging Parent

by Carla Payne // July - August - September 2023

As adult children, few things are as emotionally challenging as witnessing our parents’ health decline, especially when it comes to managing their healthcare needs or dealing with dementia. The responsibilities can be overwhelming, leaving us stressed, anxious, and unsure of the best course of action. As a certified care manager, here are my top five recommendations to help adult children find balance and support their parents’ aging needs effectively.

1. Hire a Professional Care Manager: One of the most valuable resources for adult children facing the complexities of their parents’ aging care is a professional care manager. These experts possess a wealth of knowledge and experience in navigating the healthcare system, coordinating medical appointments, managing medications, and providing guidance, advocacy, and emotional support. Studies show families who work with care managers experience higher levels of satisfaction and better overall care outcomes for their parents. By delegating these tasks to their care manager, adult children can alleviate their stress and ensure their parents receive the high-quality care they deserve.

2. Utilize Adult Day Centers: Adult day centers offer supportive environments for older adults, including those with dementia. Research has shown regular attendance at adult day centers can significantly improve participants’ cognitive function, social engagement, and overall well-being. These centers provide supervised activities, social interaction, and essential care services during the day, allowing adult children to continue with their own responsibilities while ensuring their parents are engaged and well-cared for. Research shows that adult day centers not only enhance the quality of life for older adults, but also reduce caregiver stress and delay nursing home placements.

3. Seek Support: Caring for parents with healthcare needs or dementia can take an emotional toll on adult children. It is essential to recognize the importance of self-care and seek support from others who understand the challenges involved. Platforms like support groups or counseling sessions provide a safe space to share experiences, gain advice, and find solace in the company of individuals who are going through similar journeys. By prioritizing their own emotional well-being, adult children can better support their parents.

4. Explore Respite Care Options: Adult children should not hesitate to take breaks from caregiving responsibilities. Regular respite care can reduce caregiver stress and burnout, leading to improved quality of life for both them and their parents. Respite care services allow parents to receive temporary care from trained professionals, giving adult children the chance to rest and recharge. Whether it’s for a few hours, a day, or even longer periods, respite care ensures that parents are in capable hands while adult children have time to focus on themselves and their own needs.

5. Educate Yourself: Understanding the medical condition affecting parents is crucial for providing effective care. Adult children should take the time to educate themselves about their parents’ aging needs. Research has shown that caregiver education programs can improve caregivers’ knowledge, confidence, and ability to provide care.

By implementing these recommendations and seeking support, adult children can find the balance they need to navigate their parents’ aging needs, ensuring both their own well-being and that of their loved ones. Caring for aging parents is a challenging journey, but with the right strategies in place, it is possible to provide the care and support they deserve while also taking care of yourself.

Carla Payne

Owner of Aging Care Matters, LLC; a certified care manager; and southeast chapter president of The Aging Life Care Association®.