How to Balance Aging Parents, Work & Children

If you’ve got aging parents who need more care and children you’re raising in your life at the same time, welcome to the Sandwich Generation! It’s really hard navigating how to manage aging parents, and even harder when you’ve also got kids and a spouse who need your time. There are so many layers of stress and responsibility to caring for aging parents that you can prepare for, but when the time comes, no one feels ready.

Health issues (yours and your parents’) become bigger, more serious, and have longer recovery times, requiring more care that may be beyond your abilities. Our parents may be experiencing memory or dementia issues, which can impact their cognitive abilities. They move slower, think slower. Every action requires more of your time and effort–and patience–and you already have a full plate of responsibilities, between work, kids, and spouses. And then both you and your parent(s) have to realize and accept that this is happening. Your parent is getting older and isn’t mentally or physically capable of doing the things you’re both used to them being able to do on their own. How do you do it?

How do you balance out the feeling that you’re being pulled in a million directions at once?

How do you take care of yourself and everyone else? How do you decide when it’s time for your aging parent to move into assisted living, and how do you have that conversation with them? Should you choose assisted living or independent living? Are the options for independent living enough for your parent, or do you need more specialized care – like memory care?

Caring for aging parents can be really hard. Let’s talk about how to get through this new chapter in both of your lives.

How and When to Start Talking about Big Decisions for the Care of Aging Parents

For many families, the roles of child and parent will reverse. It doesn’t often happen quickly. And when the reversal comes, one of the hardest pills to swallow is when we come to the realization that parents are becoming less capable of making big or small (or sometimes both) decisions for themselves.

Ideally, you want to start having conversations about the big decisions with your parents wishes early, before a health problem or other crisis arises that forces everyone to make decisions out of fear and urgency, that might not be the best for them or you. When you start seeing the signs, including the big logistical topics, you want to make sure you are on the same page about: a living will, a last will and testament (to distribute assets); and a funeral plan.

There are also a myriad of less well-defined, more emotional topics that you need to address when taking care of aging parents, that you and your parents also need to talk about. Here are just a few we recommend addressing.