It Takes a Village: Building a Community to Help Aging Parents

How to get help from family and a supportive community when helping your parents age at home

As an adult caring for your aging parents, it’s inevitable that you’ll get worn out and will need help caring for your parents. Caregiving can be emotionally and physically exhausting, and as the saying goes, you need to take care of yourself before you can take care of others. To avoid burnout, build a community of support to help care for your parents by reaching out to the following people and groups:

  • Siblings and family members: Even if you’re the primary caregiver for your parents, your siblings can help out by caring for your parents on evenings or weekends. If they don’t live in the same area, siblings can provide indirect support by helping manage paperwork and finances. Keep your siblings in the loop by maintaining open lines of communication about what you need and what would help you.
  • Long time friends and neighbors: These community members may be able to notice when something is off with your parents’ attitude, behavior, or routine, and they can act as unofficial watchdogs and caretakers when you can’t be everywhere.
  • Medical personnel: Your parents’ primary physician, a physical therapist, nurses, social workers, hospital patient advocates, or hospice caregivers can all supplement your hard work with their years of experience and wise advice they can offer.
  • Other caregivers: Sometimes, it’s helpful just to talk to other people in similar situations as you. To that end, reaching out to other caregivers for advice and venting sessions can do wonders for your mental state. You can find fellow caregivers in support meetings, hospitals, or even in online care forums.

If you ever need a respite for caring for your aging parents, you can use a variety of services to get a brief break. Some senior living centers offer temporary stays for if you’re going out of town or if your loved one is recovering from a hospitalization or illness. There are also adult day cares, home care services, senior centers, and sitter-companion services. Finally, you can get help from a variety of web and government resources, such as Children of Aging Parents, the Health and Human Services Department, Public Health Department, Social Security Administration, and more.

You may feel as if the responsibility of caring for your aging parents falls sorely on your shoulders, but there’s no need for you to take on this difficult task all by yourself. By reaching out to trusted friends and helpful community groups and resources, you can help your parents age comfortably at home while still taking care of yourself as well.

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