Watching your parents age can be challenging. They may be slowing down, losing their independence or developing dementia. Most likely, they will need various kinds of help and support as time goes on.

Everyone’s situation is different, and there is no ‘right’ way to go through this process,but there are steps you can take to make things easier. Here are some questions to think about when you start seeing changes in your parent’s abilities or mental state:

Who’s keeping tabs?

If your parent lives alone or if both of your parents have physical or mental difficulties, you can’t help but worry. That’s why it’s best to make a planwith family and friends for checking in, whether by phone or by visiting.

If more than a few people are involved, create a document online for everyone to plugin their calls and visits. This is also a handy way to get everyone involved in bringing meals or taking your parent out to a restaurant. Think about scheduling in some fun too! Organize game nights, movie time or other activities your parent enjoys.

When your parents need more help, who will be involved?

Think about all of the people who could help out. Is there a healthy spouse, siblings, or other family, friends or neighbors who could chip in? If possible, schedule a meeting with your ‘team’ to talk about what the needs are and what role each of you can take on.

Could a sibling who lives far away take on managing monthly bills and annual taxes? Is there a neighbor who could help with yard work or house repairs? Or, if your parent needs regular help with personal care or meal preparation, is it time to hire a professional caregiver?

When should I start planning?

Of course it’s always best to do your research and know the options before a decision needs to be made at a time of crisis. It’s safe to assume that your parents’ needs will only grow so it’s best to learn what’s available in advance.

Look into resources like meal delivery, local volunteers and transportation options. Find out about home care services or assisted living settings you might consider down the road. You may or may not need them, but if you do, it’s good to have details such as availability and costs.

What about balance and boundaries?

Perhaps the most difficult part of this transition is the emotional component. You’ve always been the child in the relationship and now you are slowly becoming the parent. This role-reversal is hard for everyone and rarely goes smoothly. Your parent may get angry and resent your efforts to help. Remember when you’re feeling sad or guilty that the choices you and your siblings make for your parents are for their own health and safety.

It can be a very difficult but also rewarding time as you help your aging parent live as healthy and comfortable as possible. Meanwhile, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Ask for help. Lean on others. Make it a priority to find a balance that works for you.

Home Care Angels provides assistance with daily activities, such as dressing, eating and personal care, from home service aides. Please call 847.824.5221 to speak with one of our Client Care Coordinators if you would like more information on in-home care.