How to Care For Aging Parents

Nate Birt

Written by Nate Birt on Tue May 09 2023.

How to Care For Aging Parents

If you’ve ever typed “caring for aging parents” into an online search engine, know you’re not alone. Many people want to provide the best support for their aging parents. Every family’s needs are different, so your steps will naturally be unique. 

But you can follow several basic guidelines to help your parents maintain a high quality of life, give yourself peace of mind and support your loved ones during this special chapter of life. 

Steps to Caring for Your Parents 

Step 1: Appreciate where you’ve been together as a family

The opportunity to support your aging parents can be a great gift. As you begin exploring ways to help them, reflecting on happy memories of the past is helpful. Celebrate the things you’ve done together and the memories you’ve not yet made. For some, caring for your parents is your chance to return the favor for the gift of time, relationship, and moral support they provided while you were growing up.

Step 2: Ask your parents about their care, health, and overall well-being goals

You and your parents may have different views on living a comfortable, happy, and high-quality life. Discuss expectations to avoid assumptions that don’t align with everyone’s opinions. Your journey starts by listening to them. You should ask:

  • What are your goals for care, health, and overall well-being? 

  • Ideally, where would you like to spend the next years of life - at home, in a community with other seniors, or with another loved one, such as a child’s residence? 

  • How can we support you as a family? What would you like to keep doing on your own? What kinds of help could we provide directly or hire someone to provide for you? 

  • What brings you the greatest joy, and how can we help you get more of it? What challenges are you facing that we can ease or remove? 

  • In the average month, what does your schedule look like? How can we help you meet your commitments, like doctor’s appointments, bill paying, etc., and find enough time to do what you love? 

  • Can we talk about your financial situation? Are you OK paying your bills? How can we help you make sure your expenses and financial needs are covered?

You can add other things you’d like to know more about to this list. Keep these details in a physical notebook, or type them into a document on your phone or computer. You can use this as a reference to provide caring elderly parents support and update it as you learn new details from your elderly parents.

Step 3: Develop a written care plan for your parents

Now that you’ve done your homework to learn how to care for your parents, it’s time to write down a plan. It doesn’t have to be complicated. The goal is to create a set of guidelines or principles that you and other loved ones providing care can reference. 

This will save you from having to ask your parents the same questions again and again. It can also save time and help you meet their needs more quickly. The plan might include details like:

  • Your parents’ names and key details, like their contact information 

  • Definitions spelling out the kinds of care and support your elderly parents need or want - a bulleted list works great

  • Medical information such as your parents’ medications, conditions, and doctors

  • A list of the monthly bills your parents must cover, including names and contact information for utilities and other services they use

  • How-to instructions with step-by-step guidelines for supporting them with tasks (e.g., how to pick up prescriptions on their behalf, how to help in the kitchen, instructions for setting up bedrails, and so on)

Step 4: Learn about caring for your parents from those you trust

Recognize that as a caregiver, you are part of a big community of people looking after their loved ones. Ask trusted friends or people you meet in safe online forums for insights on how they’re meeting their parents’ needs. 

Visit your loved ones’ doctors or another qualified person in their life who can provide a third-party perspective. The process of listening and learning can be deeply encouraging and provide you with practical tips you can use immediately.

Step 5: Spend time at the places where your loved ones live to understand their needs

You can use all of your senses, including sight and touch, to better understand how to meet your parents’ needs, and that will make a difference in their quality of life. In addition to hearing from your parents, it’s a good idea to spend time wherever they live. You might ask your mom or dad to give you a tour of their home and walk through what they do on a daily basis. 

Look for appliances or materials that need replacing, repairing, or touching up. Check out rooms from ceiling to floor, noting potential hazards or things that could result in a parent tripping or falling. See if there are products or small touches you could contribute to improving their quality of life. 

Step 6: Identify ways you can help and determine the frequency of support

If you are retired and have several hours of free time each day, consider caring for your parents yourself. Sometimes, a family has several siblings, aunts, uncles, or others who can work together, dividing up care responsibilities over the week. Cherish this special time you have with your parents. 

Recognize you don’t have to spend every hour with your loved ones working or doing odd jobs. It can be meaningful to sit together in conversation. You might even quietly read a book or watch a show together. Quality time is irreplaceable, and it also means a lot to your parents.

Step 7: Explore partners you can depend on to care for your parents

It’s OK to get help from sources outside your immediate family to care for your aging parents. There are a variety of government programs that provide care or offer support. In addition, your loved one might need the help of mobility products to get around. 

Many communities have senior centers or other places where older residents can get together, visit with friends, and enjoy socializing. Affordable senior transportation services in your community can allow you to take good care of your parents while also letting you meet other responsibilities in your daily life.

Working with your loved ones to design a care plan is time well spent. What’s more, you’ll have clarity and peace of mind knowing you can make a big difference in their quality of life through small changes.

Have Caregiving Questions?

Caring for your parents can be daunting, especially if you don’t know where to start. Our friendly and knowledgeable Caregiving Specialists are here to help if you have questions. Give us a call at (800) 696-CARE or send an email to

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Nate Birt
Nate Birt

Nate Birt is a healthcare writer with a journalism degree from University of Missouri. He lives with his wife and their four children on a small farm in Missouri.