When to Help Aging Parents, Part I

Caring for aging parents is never easy. But, there comes a time in the lives of adult children and their parents when it dawns on them that they might have to step in and lend a helping hand to his or her elderly parents. They will need to decide when to begin having a more active role in their parent’s lives, not as their child but as their caregiver. For most families, parent support seems to come as a shock.

It’s strange because we all see reports on television or read about the transition that we will go through when our parents become the dependent one and the adult child becomes the head of the relationship. And the hardest part of that transition may be the first time you have to step in and stage an intervention because there is an area of life your parent needs to let go of and you know they won’t want to.

So what are the signs that it’s time to step in and suggest or directly take action to make that change in your elderly parent’s lives?


When it comes to driving, your dad or mom’s doctor will be able to help by determining if your parent is physically able to drive any longer. When a senior citizen’s eyesight dims to where he or she cannot distinguish details in the distance or when depth perception is poor so they might not be able to judge where the intersection is or if they stop at the stoplight or in the middle of the intersection, the time is right for Grandpa or Grandma to give up the keys and let someone else do the driving.

Home Alone

The time to start the process of moving mom or dad out of their own home and into an assisted living facility may be trickier to determine. As with driving, our aging parent will mount every effort to appear to be competent to continue to live independently. That ability to live on our own, go where we want when we want to and take care of our own needs is so fundamental to who we are and to our self-esteem that this transition from living on his or her own to living where everything is done for them is certainly emotionally difficult.

So you as family members and as the caregiver for your parent need to watch for the signs that your parent’s ability to take care of the house and of themselves as they live independently has come. In the next post we will dig deeper into some of the symptoms that show there may need to be a change in our aging parent’s life.

Further Resources:

You and Your Aging Parent: A Family Guide to Emotional, Social, Health, and Financial Problems

The Complete Eldercare Planner, Revised and Updated Edition: Where to Start, Which Questions to Ask, and How to Find Help

Aging Parents


3 thoughts on “When to Help Aging Parents, Part I

  1. Old people are just like kids.They need your support at every step of their lives.

  2. My mother was furious when she had to take a driving test after a family member wrote a letter to the Secretary of State’s office. She almost passed the test, but to the family’s relief she failed at the last minute.

    She should have stopped driving long before she did, but since Dad didn’t drive and the rest of us could not or did not want to step up to the plate, we let her go too long.

    Even trying to tell her it was a safety issue wouldn’t get through to her because of dementia. Although you are right, it would probably work on those who could still understand the reason why they should not drive.

  3. Great advice here, especially regarding driving and having a doctor aid in the process. A simple eye exam or doctors note can alleviate the responsibility for you to take the keys away personally. Very often this is misinterpreted as a loss of independence, and if treated as a safety issue I imagine it will be a much smoother process. Thanks for sharing!

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