Parents Caring for Each Other

Q. “What do we do when mom and dad can no longer take care of each other, safely? They need more day-to-day help.”

A. What happens when mom and dad can no longer physically, emotionally, or financially care for each other? They say they don’t want to be a burden, so they may not tell us what’s really going on. Maybe it’s a change in someone’s health, or a disability, or they’re just growing older and can’t do what they used to be able to do. Sometimes family members have difficulties dealing with “aging” issues. They may be uncomfortable talking about certain topics, not understand what’s happening, or have communication or conflict issues that get in the way.

They may just be overwhelmed and feel bad they can’t care for their spouse. They say they don’t need our help, so they try to do things, themselves.  They say they don’t want strangers in their home.  They worry about the costs.


Questions to ask yourself
  • What am I/we worried about? What, specifically?
  • What led me to these concerns?
  • Do they want or need help, and what kind?
  • Who can help, and in what ways?
  • How can we make it happen?

Helpful Tips: Discuss the situation and tell them what you’re worried about. For example, “I’m concerned about you falling down the stairs.” or “We worry it’s getting difficult to cook for yourself, or remember to take your medications.” Take some time to write down what you’re worried about. Set aside some time to discuss this with them, and then listen to them, really listen and try to understand their perspective.

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