Caring for Elderly Parents

As many people around me know, my father, who lives in another state, is failing.   I have everyone who needs to know alerted, in case I have to suddenly take off.  A few weeks ago, my sisters and I gathered and said our good-byes to him. And then he rallied.  His condition has been up and down, but the end is clearly near.

I’m writing about this because of three excellent resources I’ve recently run across.

The first is a NY Times blog called The New Old Age: A blog focusing on the elderly and the adult children who struggle to care for them, dealing with issues of aging, especially aging parents.  Wish I had looked at it sooner;  it has a lot of what I can say, as someone who has now been through a lot of what the site talk about, is excellent advice, and reassuring reflections.  It’s hard to be making decisions for another person, and caring for the people who cared for you.  I have been spared much of this because in their later years my parents moved to be near my younger sister, who has borne by far the greatest burden.

Another is a recent Fresh Air segment with author, doctor and bioethicist Robert Martense, author of  A Life Worth Living: A Doctor’s Reflections On Illness In A High-Tech Era. For me, the most useful aspect of this is that he had come to the interview directly from being with his dying mother.  He talks about both the emotional and the medical decision-making aspects of being in that situation, as both a son and an emergency room physician.  For example,  I learned that it’s not appropriate to put someone on a ventilator who is not going to be able to recover their lung function — and why not.  And how (and why), even with an advance directive, medical professionals are likely to recommend intrusive measures to extend the body’s physical functioning regardless of the quality of life.

The last is one I have no first- or second-hand experience with, but that looks useful, and is recommending on the NY blog: Compassion and Choices, “a nonprofit organization, improves care and expands choice at the end of life. We support, educate and advocate.”

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8 responses to “Caring for Elderly Parents

  1. hi nancy. i’m a 55 year old very active mother of 2 beautiful grown sons, grandmother of 4, separated-for-4-years-but-almost-single-now, woman. after separating, i lived 3 glorious, happy years on my own, and then a year ago october 1st i downsized (again) and moved into a split-level home, moving my 90 and and 88 year old parents in with me (they had been living in a retirement community apartment but were never going to be happy there). their home is now the entire upstairs ground level, and my home is the entire downstairs ground level. i am a ‘fire’ fanatic and the downstairs living room even has a large rock woodburning fireplace (none upstairs on the main level, only in the basement!), and a large fenced back yard to accommodate my old english sheepdog, winnie. all i can say is that i believe how it all came together was a ‘god thing’ — i was able to do it at this time in my life, this perfect house literally fell into my lap, they were willing and needed to do it, etc. SO. here we are, a year later….. i have a long and remarkable story to tell about this whole journey. their lives. my life. the spiritual, physical and emotional transitions we’ve each dealt with. the challenges and joys of this past year and the entire 4 years since my brothers and i finally convinced them to move out of their home of 25 years in another state and came here. my mom has been in poor physical health for almost 20 years and my dad was her total caregiver. he is in great health and they are both very sharp mentally, but he was simply exhausted and needed someone to care a bit for him and take over the care of my mother. it’s been quite a trip…. for us all. i was just now online looking to see if there were blogs by boomers such as myself who are doing what i’m doing, but i haven’t found anything much — yours is the closest i’ve found — and i’m figuring it’s because if there are indeed others out there like me they don’t have time to write a blog! any words of direction or wisdom about starting my own blog on this subject? thanks for sharing your own story….

  2. Hi Nancy-
    I appreciate hearing your story. My family cared for my parents and in-laws for seven years. it was certainly a crash course in medications for the elderly, medicare, medicaid, in home care help. Everyone in our family pitched in to help. My children are much more in tune to elderly folks than many kids their age because of this experience.

  3. Nancy, I have begun blogging about the fun and frantic experiences I am having as the caregiver for my aged parents. Mamma is 88 and recently began hospice and daddy is 90 and receives home care. Thank you for those wonderful resources. I thrive on helpful suggestions and the commonalities we adult children share. I have found my faith sustaining in many challenging times. My daughter who is used to being the parent to her three children is also learning to deal with many daily occurrences which seem out of her control. Please visit my blog to see some of my experiences as the only daughter and caregiver.

  4. Caregivers and other family members are usually the last to be take care of when an elderly loved one needs help. I am glad you found and shared these fantastic resources. Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Your gained strength will go a long way in getting through these tough times.

  5. Thank you for sharing your story. I hope you get the help you need. I know the deductions for caring for elderly dependents isn’t that much but I think it only helps a little with the cost of care now a days. I wish there was a way to get the deduction higher for everyone caring for their elderly parents.

  6. I’m looking for someone who has the time to talk with me regarding elderly parents. I relocated to take care of them and would love to have someone to talk to regarding that. you can reach me at I’m having a hard time today and would love to have someone to talk to.

  7. Hi, where I can find the copy of that ebook: a life worth a living?
    elderly care ca

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