Caring for elderly parents

By Lauren Edwards • Published: May 21st, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Your parents took care of you when you were young. Naturally, you want to take care of them as they get older. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, five to seven million Americans are taking care of an older relative from afar. Many feel guilty and unsure about caring for elderly parents… especially when they live across the country.

If you are one of these caretakers, there are several things you should know. First, be prepared for the fact that your parents may not want help. Like anyone, they relish their independence and likely want to stay in their own home for as long as possible. And this can work, as long as you are able to provide them some support.

Choosing a good doctor… and then meeting the practitioner in person… is always wise. Knowing what’s happening with your parents’ medication regimens and appointment times also is crucial. If you have chosen a caring physician committed to good communication, things will go much more smoothly and you shouldn’t have a problem staying fully informed.

Hiring a caregiver is also an option, but even then, you must stay involved. It’s also a good idea to be in touch with family and friends who live closer to your parents. That way, you may learn of an emergency sooner, or at least be able to mobilize help more rapidly.

Taking care of aging parents can be hard, but also rewarding. Just remember… you aren’t alone. For more information and resources, visit