The Reality of Caring For Aging Parents

My mother-in-law moved into our home when our daughter was a Freshman in High School.  After being admitted to the hospital twice for nutritional deficiencies (she forgot to eat), she could no longer live by herself.

With an aging body and mind, we gave her the “master bedroom” on the main floor and moved into a guest room on the second floor.

We slept there for the next 4 years.

Looking back, we don’t regret a single day.

Sure, it was challenging, but we considered it an honor to “return the favor” to a person we loved.  For 18 years, our parents took care of us.  It seemed selfish to do anything but help my mom in her time of need.  When we were explaining the move to our daughter, we challenged her to do the same for us, if that time ever comes.  She agreed she’d take care of her mom, but the jury’s still out on her dad. Let’s hope that case never gets tried.

We experienced firsthand what many in our generation are dealing with.

The reality of caring for aging parents.

It seems everyone we know is facing the reality of caring for aging parents. We've been there, and here's what we've learned. Click To Tweet

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The Reality of Caring for Aging Parents

It’s a biological fact:  each of us has two parents.  If you’re married, you have four.

As many in our generation are learning, the odds are pretty good that at least one of them will need some help in their later years.  And yet, it’s a reality that most of us overlook. “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it” seems to be a common sentiment, and it comes as a surprise when caregiving suddenly becomes a critical priority. 

It can happen quickly.

It’s happened to a lot of our friends, and it happened to us. Both my mother-in-law and father went through it.  For Mom, we were on the front lines.  For my Dad, it was my sister who carried the load.  2 of our 4 parents required a lot of care from their children.  Very few baby boomers get through life without having to help at least one parent.  It’s likely happened to you.  If it hasn’t yet, be aware that it very likely will in the not-too-distant future.

Many I’ve talked to have expressed how difficult it is.  Until you go through it yourself, it’s impossible to grasp how consuming the process really is.  The tidal wave of issues that hit you all at once, and never seem to fade:

  • The complications of figuring out eldercare, insurance, nursing homes, and finances.
  • The urgency. 
  • The pain. 
  • The sorrow. 
  • The lack of resources. 
  • The fatigue.

According to this fact sheet from the CDC, 80% of Alzheimer’s (and related dementia) patients are receiving care in their homes. More than 16 million Americans are providing that care, with 2/3 of the caregivers being women and 34% being 65 or older. Approximately 25% are “sandwich generation” caregivers, meaning they’re caring for both their children and their parents at the same time.  Well over half of caregivers provide care for four years or more.  

It’s a big enough issue that AARP featured it in their May 2022 Bulletin magazine.  From that edition (print form, so no link), they cited the following 6 Major Challenges in home care:

  1. Navigating the caregiving world is complex and confusing.
  2. The lack of workplace support.
  3. The high financial cost to families of caregiving.
  4. A shortage of well-trained, reliable caregivers for hire.
  5. Lack of transportation options.
  6. Inequities exist within the system, causing disparities in the caregiving world.

While I’m far from an expert in the field, I wanted to develop a resource to help others who are facing the reality of caring for aging parents.  Below I’ve compiled tips and resources on the topic.  Some are firsthand advice my wife and I received when Mom moved in with us, others are from resources I’ve found as I’ve researched the topic for this post. 

If you’re caring for aging parents, I hope the following helps during your journey:


Tips We’ve Learned From Firsthand Experience

I realize every situation is unique, and some of what we learned may not apply to you.  With the best of intentions, below are a few suggestions based on what worked for us:

1. Develop a Checklist:  When Mom first moved in with us, I had a colleague who gave me the following suggestion.  “Make a checklist,” he said, “and decide what your criteria will be for when you’ll move her to a nursing home.  We didn’t do that and ended up caring for her far longer than we should have.” 

His advice was sound, and we created our list when she moved in.  As time progressed, we checked more and more of the boxes and knew the time was approaching.  Even with the list, we’d have struggled with making the decision to move her to a nursing home if it hadn’t been for a broken hip she suffered in year 4 of her stay with us.  The Doctor said she had to move to a facility for rehab, and he strongly suggested we make it a permanent move after her rehab stay was completed.  We followed his advice.  It was difficult, but easier knowing our checklist was complete.

2. Don’t Leave Siblings to do it Alone:  It’s a sad reality that caring for aging parents is not a task that is typically shared equally among siblings.  When possible, seek to give relief to the sibling who is carrying the heaviest portion of the load. If you have a sibling who’s farther away (or, if Dad is taking care of Mom by himself), have them read How To Share Caregiving Responsibilities With Family Members.

Thankfully, my wife’s brother insisted on Mom staying with them for a month every 6 months.  It gave us a much-needed break and was greatly appreciated.  When my sister carried the heaviest load during my Dad’s decline, I made an effort to visit every quarter and do as much as I could to lighten her load while I was in town.  Likewise, don’t second-guess everything the load-bearing sibling does.  Give them some space and respect.  Trust that they have Mom’s best interest at heart, and show some empathy for what they’re dealing with.  If you don’t like the way they’re doing things, have Mom move in with you for a while.

3. Have An Attitude of Gratitude:  One thing I found as both my Dad and my Mother-In-Law went through their end-of-life decline was an inner transformation.  When things would get tough, I’d think about all of the people who lost their parents at a younger age and count my blessings that I could still spend time with them.  Sure, they’re “different” as dementia worsens,  but they’re still your parents.  You can still hug them, tell them you love them and tell them stories of the things you both remember (share old photos, those long-term memories are the last to go).  Seek out gratitude during these difficult times.  

4. Recognize You’re Next in Line:  Learn from your parents.  What did they do well in terms of longevity planning?  Where did they miss the boat?  Recognize that you’ll be in their shoes in a few years, and put plans in place now to minimize the impact you’ll have on your children.  I have a future post planned on this one…stay tuned.

5. Be Selfless:  There are certain times in life when you may have to put your dreams on hold for a while.  Having a child comes to mind.  Caring for aging parents is one of those times.  Recognize that your focus over the next few years may shift to someone other than yourself, and adjust to that reality with a positive attitude.  In our case, I had to live Alone for two years to do what was best for Mom.  It’s not the path my wife or I would have chosen if our needs came first, but they didn’t.  Mom was the priority, and we did it for her. 

Recognize at some point your parents WILL pass, and it’s rewarding to know you’ve done everything you could to make their situation as comfortable as possible.  They may not be able to communicate it to you, but trust me when I say that they know what you’re doing, and they appreciate it more than know. Endure the short-term trial, knowing you’ll look back on this short period for the rest of your life with #NoRegrets.  Our parents are now gone, but we still savor, with gratitude, the fact that we were able to help them in their final years.

6. Know When To Say When:  It seems to be an oxymoron on the heels of #5, but the reality is that caring for aging parents takes a toll.  There will come a time when you need to take a break.  If they get too bad (see #1), give yourself permission to consider a nursing home, and read these tips for caregivers.  If your siblings aren’t helping, schedule some time with them to have a real heart-to-heart.  If you need to call in some help, consider the resource section below.  Perhaps you can find a home aide to help out a few days a week, allowing you to get your shopping done (or, enjoy a relaxing coffee with a friend). 

Don’t feel like you have to do it all alone. 

That’s why I created the following section:


Resources for Caring For Aging Parents

Many folks cite the lack of resources as a challenge they’ve faced when caring for aging parents.  While far from complete (I’ll ask your help to suggest other resources in the comments), I hope the following list of resources can start you down the right path:

Articles From Other Sources:


Note:  I thank the reader Joanne, who made the following suggestion in an email (she’s caring for her elderly parents, aged 93.  In addition, they’re helping to care for her husband’s 92-year-old mother with help from an aid).  

“…a suggestion going forward would be to address the situation of aging parents as it relates to us baby boomers.” – Joanne, a reader.

Thanks for your email, Joanne.  It was the trigger that led me to write this post.  I hope you find it to be helpful.


Conclusion

It’s a fact that many of us will face the reality of caring for aging parents.  While it’s a challenging time, I hope it brings some comfort to realize you’re not alone.  Millions of folks our age are dealing with it, and we’re all doing the best we can do in our unique, and difficult, situations.  

If you’re looking for help, spend some time clicking through the resources I’ve outlined above.  Take time to care for yourself to the extent your situation allows.  Also, I encourage you to seek out opportunities to be grateful.  The one you’re caring for won’t be here forever and, in the future, I suspect you’ll look back at these days with the satisfaction of knowing you did everything you could do to help a loved one in their time of need.

Let’s hope our children do the same for us.

Your Turn:  Have you faced the reality of caring for aging parents?  What tips can you share with other readers?  Do you have any resource links to add?  Let’s chat in the comments…

55 comments

  1. Wow, awesome list of resources and tips Fritz, thanks for this. I’m dealing with this now as my brother and I are taking care of my Mother who is well into her 90’s. Thankfully she doesn’t have Alzheimer’s or dementia and her cognition is pretty good, but physically she has too many ailments to list and is on many many drugs. We’re trying to delay the inevitable fate of her needing full-time care and it’s really hard.

    1. Dave, “it’s really hard,” indeed. One thing to be grateful for is the fact that she made it “well into her 90’s” before it got too serious. Best of luck with the next phase, thanks for being the early bird today.

  2. Great article Fritz and very timely for us.
    Can you please share the details of your criteria for when to move a parent to a nursing home?
    Two years ago my wife’s father moved in with us. My wife loves taking care of him but I’ve watched him slowly decline and know that we will have to make that decision in the not too distant future.
    Thanks!

    1. Mike, glad to hear the article is helpful for you. I wish I could remember our criteria, but we first established them in 2008 and I can’t recall the entire list. I know one item was when she became incontinent, another was if she forgets our names, and we had something about mobility. I believe there’s a checklist of functionality that’s commonly used in the industry to determine capabilities, we may have used that as one of the resources when we put our criteria together. Sorry I can’t be more specific, best of luck with your father-in-law.

  3. Thanks for the article . I was surprised at the mention of my suggestion, lol. Valuable information and resources to help with a common challenge we all face these days with caregiving for the elderly. Joanne

  4. Our dad was in his 80’s, living alone, and quite far away from my family & my sibling’s family (all at the ready to assist whenever needed).

    While he was intentionally independant, healthy, driving a car well, and generally getting along effectively, a trend began that involved late night paramedic calls due to falls during the night. It was financially impossible to get more than 8 hours per day of in home care.

    Eventually, illness and injuries required long-term in-patient care. While we were all relieved of the burden of a growing pattern of airfares and time off work, it was not the most gracious process for any of us to spend the last few years of Dad’s life, including him!

    1. GFF, no doubt about it, having the entire family “quite far away” certainly complicates things. We moved my Mom from Ohio to our house in Georgia when the time came, it was the best way for us to manage the situation. Thanks for sharing your difficult reality, you’re certainly not alone in these days when families often migrate long distances away from each other.

  5. Fritz, thank you for such a timely discussion for me as I have been dealing with my parents cognitive and physical decline for the past 5 years. Your list of resources is exquisitely detailed. As you have referenced from AARP, the major challenges are real. My wife and I have experienced all of these in the care of our elderly parents. Your tips from your experience are spot on. I would emphasize that generally there is one sibling who takes the brunt of the responsibility. My wife and I are the principal ones involved in the care of our parents for various reasons where our siblings cannot help as much—albeit not due to geographic factors. The cycle of life is what I think about when reading “Have an attitude of gratitude.” This resonates loud and clear for me since our parents took care of us when we were most vulnerable and need of nurturing and now we must be grateful as we take care of them in their time of need.
    Based on my experience I would like add just a few tips to your experience:

    1. Durable Power of Attorney. Convinced your parents that it’s in the family’s best interest to get a DPOA for financial and healthcare reasons. Assuage any concerns they may have setting up a transparent system with your siblings or other trusted family members since it is an unfortunate fact that it is family that normally defrauds seniors. My DPOA allowed me to make financial and healthcare decisions when my parents were not able as verified by a geriatric psychiatrist.
    2. Social Security Representative Payee. If you feel your parents are not capable of handling their finances get control of their social security. Must be verified by a qualified physician like a geriatric psychiatrist. Unfortunately, we had to do this for both our parents for legitimate reasons.
    3. Veterans. Lots of benefits out there for veterans. My father who is a 40% disabled Korean War veteran is entitled to spousal benefits for my mom who has advanced dementia under VA Aid and Attendance.
    4. Question Healthcare Providers. Our present healthcare system is undergoing challenging times post COVID. They are truly heroes; however, they are not devoid of mistakes and misdiagnosis. Question diagnosis and treatment. Seek out second opinions when necessary. Both my wife and I have experienced this firsthand. Misdiagnosis that was corrected with oversight and improved our mothers’ quality of life while contending with their mental decline.

    Thank you again for your wonderful work.

    1. Eduardo, those are 4 EXCELLENT additions to the discussion, thanks so much for taking the time to lay them out (along with the excellent descriptions). Good luck with your situation, and thanks for adding value to the topic.

  6. It’s not just parents, either: sometimes it’s a need to care for an adult child with medical needs, which brings up the anxiety-provoking question of “what if he/she outlives me?”

    1. Great point, Helen. While I was focusing on the care of elderly parents, I also realize many deal with very serious challenges with children and it’s appropriate to add it to the discussion. A whole new scope of problems, but one could argue they’re even more serious than dealing with a parent given the anxiety of them potentially surviving after you’re gone. A real gap in our health care system, for sure.

  7. We’re in our early 60s, empty nesters, and still working. Of our four parents, our dads and our stepmothers have already passed away, and we had no caregiving responsibilities. My mom is 80 and while sharp mentally, is starting to have physical issues. But she’s in a long-term relationship with a much younger man, so it’s likely that he’ll be her primary caregiver when the time comes.

    Then there’s my mother-in-law. She has advanced dementia at 82–it’s been progressing since her early 70s. We suspect it’s Alzheimer’s, but her husband (my husband’s stepfather) either hasn’t gotten her an adequate diagnosis with a neurologist or hasn’t shared it with us. His view is “Yeah, she has dementia and there’s nothing we can do about it.” He cares for her, but he just turned 80 and has health issues of his own. My husband, his sister, and their stepbrother are at their wits end trying to figure out how to help them. So I really appreciate the resource list.

    As to your suggestions, I particularly appreciated the one about gratitude. Right now it just all seems so sad. My mother-in-law just isn’t the person we knew and loved. And seeing my mom get more frail and deal with the discomforts of aging is hard, too. But I’ve also experienced losing my father at a relatively young age (he was 61, I was 39), so I appreciate the point about being thankful to still have parents living.

    The experience has also made us committed to making sure our own affairs and plans are in order so that we’re not a burden to each other or our kids. At 62, we’re only 18-19 years behind where our moms are (they were young when they had us), so we see our own future with some uncomfortable clarity. One of my to-dos for this summer is to update our estate plan that we set up in 2016 and to hire a financial professional to manage some aspects of our trust.

    Thanks for this. It’s hard stuff to think and talk about, and I appreciated your positive perspective.

    1. “My mother-in-law just isn’t the person we knew and loved.”

      Well said, and something that anyone who’s gone through it can 100% relate to. We used to say about my Mom, “she’s still Mom, but she’s not.” Thanks for the kind words about my post, I’m pleased to hear my comments about gratitude struck home for you. Best of luck with your situation.

  8. Fritz, amazing content as usual! Not there yet with mom & dad, but am getting close. I’m sure, like all of your content, this will be a future reference for sure.

    Stay safe and well!

  9. This is a great article and I really appreciate the humble and caring tone. Thank you.

  10. My in-laws Lived in another state for many years but then asked if they could live with us “temporary” while they looked for a place to live on their own. They lived with my husband and I for five years after that and I agree with everything you wrote. (They never even looked someplace else to live!) We eventually moved his father into nursing care after he had a stroke, then a year later, moved his mom in the same facility when she started to wander from the house. Some things that helped us was having meals on wheels come when my husband and I were at work because I knew they would call me if things were not OK. I also hired a retired friend to come over and stay with them while my husband and I worked. It was easy work for her since she just needed to make sure they were OK and took meds on a schedule. She would take them on errands, and keep them company and do light housekeeping if needed. I was able to pay her half of what it would’ve costed for an official home health aide and I could trust her completely. She enjoyed it! So my tip is be creative about finding help. A trustworthy person might be all you need. Another tip is to look early at senior care places by you. There is a good chance you will have to make a decision on short notice ( after a medical event or fall). Being familiar with what is nearby is helpful, and remember, a fancy lobby does not equal attentive care! For us being only 3 miles away from the senior home means we stop by at least every couple days, and we have been easily able to advocate for them, and visit often and take them places. Close counts if you want to be there for them! My last tip is to talk to a lawyer about Medicaid planning if they have assets- do this BEFORE Medicaid is needed. We were able to legally set aside some money for them from their assets after paying a lawyer, and it has helped tremendously to cover “extras” not covered by Medicaid- and by “extras” I mean things like dental care, shoes, haircuts and extra foot care. We would have paid for that all ourselves, but I am so grateful that we don’t need to yet. My father in law passed a couple years ago now, but my mother in law is still walking and talking at 96! She has no short term memory left, but knows family and enjoys the food and company at the seniors home.

    1. – Meals on Wheels
      – Hiring a retired friend
      – Get familiar with what your area has to offer before you need it.
      – Hire a lawyer for help with Medicaid planning

      Great tips, all. Thanks for adding from your experience. “Be creative” is a great recommendation, and yours is an example of thinking outside the box.

  11. What a great piece Fritz. Not only do you address the many practical matters that come along, but you help others sort through the many emotional pieces from your experiences. Another great piece Fritz. Thank you for your writings.

  12. I have been a hospice chaplain for the past thirteen years, and I also would commend you for this month’s blog. This final chapter of a person’s life can provide many challenges for them and their families. Physical and cognitive changes often bring a loss of autonomy (independence), and families often feel like their between a rock and a hard place in supporting their loved ones. It’s always good to be proactive in establishing strong communication. The skill of speaking the truth in love and building a collaborative environment is so important. Here would be my top issues to address:

    1. Safety. Falls are game changers. Work together to assess risks and address them.
    2. Finances. Protect them from the predators who are looking to scam the most vulnerable among us.
    3. Self Care. Share the load in the family, and know when to seek additional resources when caregiver burnout appears. Caregivers often die before those they are caring for. This is very important for our elderly parents who are caring for each other. When dementia is present, this dynamic is even more important to pay attention to caregiver burnout.
    4. Having grandparents in our homes is a tremendous gift to our children. The legacy of core values and wisdom shared is not lost on our children. Neither is the example of care and honor to our parents that provide a value for the way we care for the elderly.
    5. The gift of caregiving. Compassion and kindness are built in these seasons of life, and so is wisdom. I often provide affirmation for those who have said their final goodbyes to their parents (other family members).
    6. Hospice is another incredible resource that provides an interdisciplinary team to help you navigate the crisis and challenges of final months, weeks, and days.

    Thanks again Fritz for the wisdom you share in these blogs!

    1. Bill, thank you for your extraordinarily valuable suggestions from one who has experienced this reality far more than most of us ever will. God bless you on sharing your gifts as a hospice chaplain for 13 years. A true act of giving to those who need it most. Thanks for sharing the things you’ve learned, great suggestions, all. I’m sure many readers will benefit from the sharing of your experience.

  13. Thank you Fritz. Very comprehensive and informative. Unfortunately both mine and Jim’s parents have passed but I think I should send this to our children!

    1. Betty, it’s great to have a member of the “Fido Family” leaving comments on my blog! Look forward to seeing you at the Fundraiser tomorrow night. I hope you have more luck convincing your children of their need to take care of you than I’ve had with mine. Wink.

  14. I cared for my parents for the last 6 years. My dad passed away 3 years ago and my mom in Nov 21. A couple suggestions: falls and slurring speech may well be a result of UTIs. Always have them check for that. They thought my dad has a stroke and it turned out to be a UTI. My mom was falling repeatedly and we finally figured out this UTI connection and put her on a prophylactic antibiotic to prevent UTIs. For some reason UTIs don’t hurt in old folks and they substantially affect balance.
    There was a good suggestion about thinking outside the box for care. We had 3 ladies come help with my mom, one in the morning, one mid afternoon and one to help her to bed. Thanks for the great article!

    1. Vivian, thank you for bringing up UTIs. It’s amazing how often UTIs affect the elderly (both my Mom and Dad suffered with them), and strange how the impact is so much more severe on the elderly. Thanks for adding the important topic to the discussion.

  15. This is the first time I’ve ever read your blog – thanks for the great article! I would highly urge potential caregivers to get a power of attorney in place before their parents’ health declines to the point that they can’t make financial decisions anymore. As a veteran of the mortgage industry, I’ve run across a few scenarios where people were trying to refinance or get a reverse mortgage for a parent who can no longer make financial decisions, but didn’t have a POA in place. It can be really tough to get things done without having that set up ahead of time.

  16. Thanks for being vulnerable and sharing this important topic.
    I diagnosed my father with Parkinson’s and arranged treatment. I moved him close to me and provided housing. My brother helped some too. But eventually my dad needed more care than we could provide. At times I feel guilty about moving him into a nursing home. He was grateful for all we did. I realize we need to be at peace. RIP, Dad.
    BTW my grandmother had undiagnosed and untreated osteoporosis which eventually caused a hip fracture and functional decline. That made me furious. I do all I can to avoid that mistake on my patients.

    1. WealthyDoc, thanks for bringing an interesting perspective into the discussion, being a physician who also has to deal with a declining parent. I’m sure your experience has given you empathy for your many patients who are facing the reality of their declining years. Sorry to hear about your grandmother, but happy that your patients will have a doctor who won’t make the same mistake.

  17. Wish I’d read this 5 years ago. It’s too late for me even though we’re still dealing with 1/4. The really difficult part that no one ever talks about is if you are an only child with no children as is my case. It’s been extremely complicated for me, made more so by a bitter stepparent. I hope others will take your thoughtful advice.

    1. Bobi, I thought about several of my friends who don’t have kids as I wrote this post, I’m sure that is a very difficult situation to deal with. Sorry to hear about the “bitter stepparent”, that’s one area where I’ve vowed to myself I won’t become bitter in my latter years if it’s within my control. Hang in there with your remaining 1/4.

  18. Spent today starting to help my sister downsize Dad to a smaller assisted living apartment to save more money (his long term care insurance runs out in about 16 months). It is hard, but I am blessed with a sibling and nieces/nephew and brother in law who will all be helping in one way or another. My mom used to say aging is not for sissies. I say being the child of aging parents is not for sissies. This is the fourth downsizing in seven years. Family home to condo, to large apartment assisted living to now smaller apartment assisted living. The main goal is to have Dad comfortable and well taken care of and to be speaking to my sister when it is all over.

    1. 4 downsizings in 7 years, I can’t imagine dealing with that. Thank you for being there for your Dad, I’m sure he appreciates your support. Glad to hear you have family pitching in to help, it’s so much better when you don’t have to deal with a declining parent by yourself. I hope your Dad remains comfortable, and that you and your sister keep talking to each other. Wink.

  19. Very informative and comprehensive list everyone who cares for their elderly parents must read and understand. As a caregiver myself for my elderly parents till the last couple of years (Mom (89) passed away Sep 2020 and Dad (98) in Mar 2021. Though it was physically and mentally very demanding, it indeed gave us (including both my brothers who shared the caring equally) a sense of satisfaction, gratitude and peace of mind. One additional point on visiting health care professionals including doctors: prepare a checklist prior to visiting them to get the best care for the elderly patient so it is more productive. Always have someone watch them and help them at home whenever they try to get up on their feet as it gets progressively worse as they age due to their fragile bones.

    1. Chet, sorry about the recent loss of your Mom and Dad, glad to hear your caregiving left you with peace of mind. Thanks for the additional point about preparing a checklist and keeping an eye on the elders, great advice that many can benefit from. Thanks for stopping by.

  20. Thanks for the article. Siblings helping the son or daughter who is carrying the load is a big subject. It should be, a team effort. My sister, who lived 40 miles away did almost nothing. It would have been such a relief if she had said, “You take the week off, I’ll visit Mom and see that she is OK this week.” But, she never did. When my Mother was in a nursing home, I was shocked at how many of the residents never had family visit them.

    1. Henry, we noticed the same reality when Mom was in the nursing home. It broke our hearts how many of the residents seem to be alone and forgotten. A truly sad way to end ones years. As for your sister, it’s a sad reality that you were far from alone in having to care for your Mom by yourself. Not sure why that is, but it’s certainly a common experience.

  21. Good article & insight. We cared for our 89yo mom home from Dec 17 through Jan 21. Sis & I took turns staying @ night, she was retired, I was still working, until sis had car accident that left her needing care for some months. Had just hired a caregiver week prior to stay 3 nights, while we each took 2. Brother covered sis’s nights, until mom had to have hip replacement, resulting in 3 surgeries, facility care, in 2018.
    Returned home early 2019, resuming our schedules & duties. Brother died unexpectedly Dec 2018, so in addition (unmarried, no dependents) had an estate to handle. I’m glad we were able to do this, but unable to grasp why mom refused to make some modifications to home for ease of mobility. When I was a teen, we took in a couple of elderly relatives over the winters. And brother had motorcycle accident 16 years prior which had him recouping @ parents. They should have installed ramp & other modifications long ago!
    Looking ahead when I/we move or downsize, I plan to make these types of modifications to home.

    1. Kristy, wow, you’ve had a very rough road in the past few years. I can’t imagine dealing with that many caregiving situations arising at the same time. Great addition to the discussion about considering modifying a home to make it “mobility friendly” while you still can, definitely something everyone should think about as they plan for their elder years. I hope your road ahead is sunny and bright, you deserve some smooth driving after your recent journey.

  22. Thanks a lot for this interesting article Fritz!
    I cannot share much as I lost my parents when I was 30 and my mother-in-law is still fully independant and lives close to us, but I am fully aware that there are so many boomers facing these problems! And they feel lost and confused especially when they have to make crucial decisions, like many friemds of mine.
    I find the new senior living communities with assisted living options quite a good solution (as far as I know, for the time being there are quite a few in Italy in the biggest cities) but I guess that the main issue are their skyrocketing costs.
    As to your pragmatic approach to the future, I look forward to reading your next post covering point nr. 4 “recognize that you are next in line”. To this respect, I have a long term care insurance covering home care, a live-in caregiver, therapist etc. , at least not to be a “burden” for those who will take care of me, namely my husband, sister, brother, and all my relatives. Will it be sufficient? It’s time to review its wording carefully!
    Thanks again for sharing your experience !

    I

    1. Michaela, sorry to hear you lost your parents at such a young age, tough reality to bear. I do think the senior living communities are a viable option, though unfortunately they’re quite costly. For those who can afford them, they’re certainly a great solution. You’re fortunate to have the LTC insurance, the price of that has skyrocketed here in the USA and the sales of those policies has plummeted as a result. Not sure when I’ll get to the future post about recognizing you’re next in line, but it’s one of the many drafts I have saved in my queue….

  23. Dear Fritz,
    You have one of the most comprehensive and thoughtful financial blogs out there- and both mentally and financially the topic of care for our parents is a very important one. My parents have been living with us and Dad has Cancer and Parkinson (with Dementia) for the last 8 years… and your post came straight to my heart. Mom is the main caregiver but being at home… it’s a major part of my life (and my full family- wife and 3 girls).
    Thank you! Your post reminds me that I always tell friends- we will all go thru it at some point and I just hope we are all prepare to do it with all the love that it takes.
    Great post!

    1. Alonso, a sincere thank you for your kind words about my work. Having your parents in your home for 8 years is a major commitment, I’m sure they appreciate it more than you know. Glad to hear my post “hit home” with you today, thanks for stopping by.

  24. Great post once again Fritz! Tell wifey Steve says to give you 2 hugs good morning today. 😉

    Our 4 parents have passed away and we are grateful we traveled very often to visit. We have fond memories of taking our father out from his apt. and nursing homes on day trips.

    As a Hospice volunteer for 3+ years, I have visited Moms and Dads at nursing homes and their own homes. I heartily recommend caregivers to reach out to their local Hospice chapter when the time comes. Bill, a 96 yo Grandpa who lived at home, enjoyed my time with him and his wife….we visited about life and family, but mostly he wanted me to read the Bible to he and his wife. What a reward I enjoyed, getting my fingerprints on His Word….and giving relief to a caregiver and sharing the Gospel with people that could not see to read the fine print! It warms my heart to visit the elderly….the volunteers for my MIL and FIL inspired me to join. #NoRegrets and #volunteersWillHelpU

    1. Steve, and…tell your wife to give you 2 hugs today, you deserve it for giving your time as a Hospice volunteer. Good for you, Steve. Sounds like truly rewarding work. Interesting to me to see how God works when you’ve “discovered” the work he always intended for you to do. Thanks for helping out those in need in their final days. No regrets, indeed.

  25. How many years should a person put their life on hold? You only did it for 4 years. There are people going on a decade or longer. What is your advice to them? What about family dealing with elders who are incontinent? How many years can a person clean urine and feces 2, 3, 4 or more times a day? What about adult children in their sixties or seventies caring for 90+ year old parents? Something has to give. What a pollyanna article. Why not get down to the reality and nitty gritty too?

  26. Taking care aging parents is the hall mark that elevated the human species above it animalistic base…

    In overwhelm cases; the endeavor will bring mental, physical and especially the financial toll to the involved members of the families…

    From my own personal experiences, this is harder than scaling the FIRE Himalayas…

    Good luck to those who are about to embark on this journey…

    And congratulation to those who have done it, you are the BEST among the BEST of the human beings!

  27. This decision is made doubly harder when the parent(s) who needs caring did not take care of you. Though on the surface it may seem sad, sometimes there’s a good reason why elders are left alone.

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