Caring for Aged Parents
“I WAS up day and night, but I still felt that it was a privilege.” That was how one woman described caring for her elderly mother. For this woman, and many others, caring for aging parents is a positive experience.
It is also becoming a more common experience. The fastest growing age group in the United States is said to be the 75-plus category. In 1900, fewer than one million Americans were 75 or older. By 1980 almost ten million were over 75. Older people are living longer, and about a third of those 85 or older need regular assistance.
While caregiving can be a rewarding experience, it is not without stress. If one or both of your parents are aged and in need of your care, you may find certain aspects difficult. Just watching them decline in health surely causes you pain. And if you receive little or no help from other family members, then you are left with the bulk of the caregiving.
You may also discover that no matter how old you are, you never feel grown-up around your parents. Their tendency may be to treat you like a child, and your tendency may be to respond like one. Lack of emotional support from friends can add a stressful element to your caregiving.
Nevertheless, the challenges of caregiving need not interfere with your maintaining a close relationship with your parents. The Scriptures clearly direct adults “to practice godly devotion in their own household and to keep paying a due compensation to their parents and grandparents, for this is acceptable in God’s sight.” On the other hand, he that “chases a mother away is a son acting shamefully and disgracefully.”—1 Timothy 5:4; Proverbs 19:26.
Godly devotion expressed through caregiving can be an enriching experience. But first, you must know what your parents actually need from you in the way of help. The following articles may assist you in identifying and meeting those needs. And while these articles focus on what can be done in the home, it is understood that in some cases, because of very poor health or advanced age, a parent may require professional help, such as that found in a nursing home.