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How to look after your elderly relatives as an only child

How to look after your elderly relatives as an only child

As an only child, you have a responsibility to care for your parents as they age, without anyone to share this responsibility with it can prove challenging. You may have to take them to appointments, help with jobs around the house and be available to see them and talk to them.

You may also have the responsibility for deciding to move them into a nursing home. This can be emotional, especially with the rise of nursing home abuse claims and the phasing out of fall prevention alarms in nursing homes. You may be one of the only people visiting them and monitoring their welfare.

Luckily, there are things you can do to make it a little easier.

Think ahead

Be prepared for different eventualities such as them becoming ill. Be open and honest with each other and talk about their preferences for care. You may both need to face that they are aging. You may also want to make financial preparations for medical care or nursing care.

Ask hard questions

Some elderly people don’t want to be a burden and might even neglect to keep you updated about their health. However, it is important that you have all of the information and sometimes you may need to ask some tough questions. Consider asking if they have a will and what they would like to happen when they pass away. You should also ask about their health and check that they are taking their medications and seeing their doctor.

Find community services

There are adult day centers and clubs where elderly people can get out and meet people and learn new things. Keeping active will keep them healthy for longer and it will take some pressure off you to know that they have things to fill their week with.

Put yourself first

Balancing your own adult life including keeping friends, doing well at work and looking after a house and perhaps even a family is important. You need to find a balance between caring for your relatives and taking care of yourself.

Be sure to take time out to yourself to relax and do things you enjoy. If you are happier you will be better able to care for someone else’s needs. It is not selfish to put yourself first, it’s necessary.

Know your rights

The Family Medical Leave Act is a federal law that allows you to take leave from work to care for a family member.

If you need to leave work to care for their immediate needs then that’s ok. But try and put preventative measures in place to prevent this from happening.

Know when it’s time to get support

At some point, you may need to hire carers to come and see them. And eventually, you may need to move them into a home. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to do it all on your own. When the time comes and you need support, take it. It will be best for everyone involved.

This is a collaborative post. All views and text are my own. 

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Jocelyn Brown
Jocelyn Brown

A former school teacher, Jocelyn Brown created Hip Mama’s Place in 2007. Her motto for this blog is: get inspired, create and share! Jocelyn loves sharing about food and recipes, crafts, DIY projects and her random travels with her family. She also loves all things social media, but her latest obsession is Instagram.

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  1. 02/21/2020 / 1:55 pm

    I was my grandmother’s sole caretaker and it was a truly rewarding experience. Thanks for sharing these tips.

  2. Elizabeth O
    02/19/2020 / 6:05 pm

    A timely post and advice we should all take way before our parents reach that place of needing care. Great tips and information shared.

  3. 02/19/2020 / 5:14 pm

    This is such an important topic that really needs to be discussed in the open. This topic affects us all as all of our parents will eventually need help

  4. Marykate
    02/19/2020 / 3:02 pm

    Such important information for a sensitive and important topic! Thank you for the insight

  5. 02/19/2020 / 2:18 pm

    So much great information. I need to bookmark this. I need to start preparations.

  6. 02/19/2020 / 6:01 am

    These are great tips. My parents have done a lot of planning for their old age and we have family meetings to discuss this at least once a year.

  7. 02/19/2020 / 5:54 am

    This is very useful information. My sister take care of both mom and dad as I am here. I know it is always important to have a support system.

  8. rika
    02/19/2020 / 5:42 am

    This is very useful info. Caring for the elderly isn’t easy and very challenging. I think it’s a good idea to accept help and support from others.

  9. 02/19/2020 / 1:38 am

    This is a great post and really important as many are faced with aging parents. Fortunately, my parents have plenty of support for them, but it is not the case for my mother-in-law. Preparations and conversations must he had in advance, no matter how difficult they are.

  10. 02/19/2020 / 12:56 am

    Watching the elderly can be challenging for others. I know this because I watched my godmother watch over several older family members growing up.

  11. 02/18/2020 / 6:24 pm

    This is so important for us to talk with our soon elderly parents sometimes they are so independent that they don’t want to realize that.

  12. Subhashish Roy
    02/18/2020 / 6:09 pm

    Yes once after a certain age the elderly actually become like children and life goes back full circle with roles reversed. It’s the time to give back to our parents.

  13. Matt Taylor
    02/18/2020 / 4:05 pm

    This is all great advice! My parents are elderly, I am not an only child, however. And they actually sold their house and will be moving close to family so that will help.

  14. Ruth I
    02/18/2020 / 3:50 pm

    It’s important to have a support especially when you are an only child. It’s not easy to take care of elders. Thank you for this!

  15. 02/18/2020 / 3:35 pm

    This is the part of being an only child that scares me. My parents and I don’t really have a relationship so I’m not sure who will look after them.

  16. Cathy Mini
    02/18/2020 / 3:16 pm

    What a nice information it’s so useful. I really have to think about this in the future.

  17. 02/18/2020 / 1:58 pm

    I think it’s really important to have open conversations with your parents about their finances and health. It’s also a great idea to encourage them to meet new people at senior’s clubs or community centres.

  18. 02/18/2020 / 1:57 pm

    Taking care of your elderly relatives would be hard if you don’t have support so it’s always best to find support all the way.

  19. yana
    02/18/2020 / 11:52 am

    very useful information and we should have a time to help our parents… thanks for reminder!

  20. 02/18/2020 / 9:59 am

    Aaahhhhh….these times can be very scary for some children and not even just only children. They really have to put themselves first.

  21. 02/18/2020 / 8:12 am

    This such a useful blog. Knowing what to do and how to look elderly relatives is really a great thing. Thank you for sharing this.

  22. 02/18/2020 / 3:09 am

    Knowing when to get help is huge! My in-laws are struggling trying to do everything for her mother. They refuse to ask for help or hire a service. I believe it’s time, but they’re doing what they believe is best. Wanting to take care of the people who cared for you can be a real challenge.

  23. 02/18/2020 / 3:03 am

    My mother and my stepfather are both senior citizens, but are both doing so well compared to others their age. Every time I visit them, I swear they take care of me. So if I were ever in the position to look after them, I would do so without flinching. Great blog post. So useful.

  24. 02/18/2020 / 2:34 am

    Caring for an elderly or sick loved one is hard enough. I can’t imagine having to carry the weight of it as an only charge.

  25. 02/18/2020 / 2:26 am

    It’s so important for only children to remember that they can and should ask for help when they need it. None of us can do everything on our own.

  26. 02/18/2020 / 2:21 am

    I think this is such an important topic for everyone to discuss, especially children who are the only child. Being the only child means there is so much less of a support system.

  27. Beth
    02/18/2020 / 2:15 am

    My mom recently sold her house and spends a few months with each of her daughters. So far it has been great, but we know that she may not be able to continue this in the future. If that happens, she will live with me as long as it makes sense. I appreciate this information as I may need it in the future!

  28. 02/17/2020 / 11:55 pm

    I am an only child. Luckily my parents are smart and already have plans so I’m not stuck taking care of them. I’ll do the same for my kids! I just have two, but I’d hate for them to put their lives on hold and take care of me.

  29. 02/17/2020 / 11:31 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this post. I think it’s so important to know when to get help, and to have an action plan.

  30. 02/17/2020 / 10:45 pm

    Such a great post, I’m an only child and this has a something I’ve started to plan now my moms in her 70s

  31. 02/17/2020 / 10:07 pm

    This is a tough one, thanks for opening the conversation. My husband and I are not only children, and we are not going to be the primary caregivers as far as we can see, but our son may have to follow this guide as he is an only child, and we are 54 and 60. Thanks for the info!

  32. 02/17/2020 / 8:34 pm

    I spent the last 10 years taking care of my mom who had Alzheimer’s and then metastatic breast cancer. She passed away last year. Have real conversations is so important as is a Power of Attorney over both medical and finances.

  33. 02/17/2020 / 6:53 pm

    This is such important information for people with older parents who need help. I have lost both my parents so i wish I knew some of this when they needed the care.

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