Looking after elderly parents

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When faced with the daunting prospect of looking after ageing parents, it’s understandable you might feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders; particularly if you’re an only child, or the rest of your family live out of town.

The reason this situation tends to create so much pressure and exhaustion is that it’s an additional responsibility; meaning in addition to tending to the emotional and practical needs of your children and partner, managing your own work-life balance, and trying to have some much needed “you time”… you’re now having to take care of your parent(s) too.

This can be a real struggle, and it’s something many people choose to outsource to professional carers and nursing homes.  The challenge is that most people don’t want to end up in a nursing home, as they want the independence, security and familiarity of remaining within their own home; which is where home care packages come into play.

The first thing you need to do when managing this situation is to appreciate there’s an intrinsic limit to how much you can take on.  No matter how hard you try, you’re unlikely to be able to take full care of the full gamut of their needs – and it’s ideal if their emotional and social needs are not solely fulfilled by you and your visits, as this puts a lot of pressure on you.

That said, one of the major challenges elderly people face is that of loneliness.  The impact and effect of loneliness can be more emotionally painful than the physical pain suffered from an ailment, and therefore this is a key area you want to focus on… as after all, emotional support goes both ways.

This article looks at three ways you can take care of their social and emotional needs whilst lightening the load for you, and your own family:


There is a necessary component of care that goes beyond emotional, and some could say is more fundamental, and that’s the need of medical care (i.e. nurses treating leg ulcers) and personal care (i.e. bathing and sanitation).  It’s vital you realise there’s a limit to what you can do yourself, and also be mindful of the boundaries of your parent and yourself in terms of dignity – for instance, many mother’s would prefer a stranger wipes their bottom than their own son.


A companion can provide great relief for both you and your parent.  The most important thing when searching for a companion, however, is to ensure a genuine peer-to-peer connection that facilitates natural rapport rather than awkward or strained conversation.


There are plenty of daycare facilities available to most people, and these provide an important social environment that keeps your parents mind active and engaged.  This can be one of the best remedies for loneliness, though you want to make sure the daycare facilities and vibe are aligned with what your parents want… as otherwise, it’s going to lead to frustration and resentment.


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