Googling for Mom and Dad: Your Essential Guide to Caring for Aging Parents

caring for aging parents

Let’s face it, none of us are getting any younger. And as much as we’d love to, we can’t shield my parents from the effects of aging. It’s a reality that many of us are confronting head-on. Sometimes, that means late-night internet searches fueled by concern and determination. My parents were always “in charge” and watching them diminish over time was heartbreaking for me.

The first time I searched for “memory loss in seniors”, a wave of anxiety washed over me. Was it just forgetfulness, or something more serious? What decisions will need to be made to keep them safe, healthy, and happy? That initial search led to many more questions, and the more I researched, the more my search history became a roadmap for my journey as a caregiver for aging parents.

caring for aging parents

The Big Questions: Health, Housing, and Everything In Between

The population is aging rapidly, in no small part due to advancements in medicine. This means a significant rise in the number of older adults who may require assistance with daily living on some level. This responsibility often falls on adult children, however, the burden of caregiving seems more complex and demanding these days than in previous generations. Many adult children juggle careers, children, and other responsibilities while trying to care for a parent who might live in a different state. According to the U.S. Administration for Community Living, approximately 40 million family caregivers provided unpaid care to a family or non-family member age 65+. We all do the best we can, but open communication, planning, and support systems are more important now than ever to ensure the well-being of both our aging parents and us as caregivers.

So, what do people google when it comes to caring for parents? Here are some phrases frequently searched for by children researching how best to care for loved ones.

Understanding Age-Related Changes

Memory loss, decreased mobility, and changes in vision and hearing are all realities of aging. But what’s considered normal and when is the behavior concerning? Searching topics like “normal age-related memory decline” or “arthritis symptoms in older adults” can help you understand what to expect and when to seek professional help. The National Institute on Aging (NIA) is a great resource that provides information on age-related changes and common health concerns in older adults.

Navigating the Medical Maze

The healthcare system can be overwhelming, especially when caring for a loved one and we are fortunate that we can easily find information online these days. Search for terms like “understanding medical conditions for seniors”, “researching treatment options for older adults”, or “geriatric specialists near me” to get started. Also, AARP caregiving resources may be extremely helpful for you.

caring for aging parents

Senior Living Options

The needs of our parents may change as they age. Will they be able to live independently at home? Is their home conducive to aging in place? Would assisted living be a better choice to meet their needs? How do you tactfully start the conversation with your lovehttp://age in placed one to determine their preferences? These are big decisions, and you want to make the best possible choice for your parents’ well-being. Research topics online like “home modifications for seniors”, “in-home care”, “independent living for seniors”, “comparing assisted living communities near me”, and “continuing care retirement communities”, depending on your situation. The Eldercare Locator is an excellent resource to help you locate more specific services you might need.  Additionally, BenefitsCheckUp® is a wonderful service that helps older adults and people with disabilities in need find and apply for benefits related to health care, medicine, food, utilities, and more.

Financial Planning and Legal Matters

Navigating long-term care, end-of-life planning, power of attorney designation, and drawing up advanced directives are all very sensitive but crucial topics. Ensuring your parents’ finances are in order and documenting their wishes in advance will make things easier later on, so it is worth having the awkward conversation. While you are discussing these issues with your parents, I strongly recommend you consider putting your own plans in place to help remove the emotional and financial burden on your children when your time comes. Delve into online resources by googling terms like “estate planning for seniors”, “affordable long-term care options”, and “financial aid for seniors” to find helpful information. And check out the National Council on Aging (NCOA) for additional resources and legal guidance.

Emotional Support and Caregiver Resources

Even those of us who cope well with life’s challenges may find caring for an aging parent is emotionally draining. Finding support to help you cope with the inevitable challenges of a caregiving situation is essential. There’s an expression I like, “You can’t pour from an empty cup”, which means you need to take care of yourself so you can take care of others. Searches for “caregiver support groups” (both online and in-person) and “tips for managing caregiver stress” can connect you with others facing similar situations. It’s often helpful to talk to others to learn what coping strategies worked for them. In addition, the Family Caregiver Alliance offers a multitude of resources, support groups, and educational materials for caregivers.

caring for aging parents

The Importance of Open Communication with Aging Parents

As my parents aged, I realized the importance of talking openly and honestly with them about their future wishes. I could no longer ignore that they were having difficulties. Fortunately, they were surprisingly receptive, and I managed to hold it together long enough to have the conversation. They were very realistic and, as it turned out, already had some plans in place. They had an updated will and legal documents for the Executor, Power of Attorney (POA), and Medical Proxy.  As they were adamant about aging in their own home, they had also purchased extensive long-term care insurance years earlier. They had their cemetery plots. As far as they knew, they took care of everything necessary to make things go smoothly for me and my siblings in the years to come.

Fast forward a few years to when Mom became ill and eventually passed away. There were so many things I didn’t know. Did she want to allow lots of visitors in her room even if she seemed not to be aware they were there or who they were? Or did she prefer just family? Some people don’t want a lot of people to see them in poor condition. I also wondered if I should keep Mom’s glasses on her face in case she had moments of clarity so she could see those in her room? That seems like a small matter, but it’s the type of thing that could make someone very happy at the end of their life. What about the funeral service? We had no information about what she wanted. Did she want to follow religious traditions? I didn’t know. Or perhaps she had a favorite song or poem she would want included. I wish I had thought to ask these questions. The Conversation Project is a wonderful resource to help with this type of end-of-life conversation.

caring for aging parents

The Bottom Line

You’re not alone in this journey! We are lucky a wealth of information about caring for aging parents is easily available online. Use the resources in this guide and foster open communication with your loved ones to create a personalized plan to honor their wishes. Knowing what your elderly parent wants in advance so you don’t have to guess will help you approach this chapter of life with confidence. And don’t forget to take care of yourself; self-care is essential to help prevent stress and burnout, and ultimately take better care of your loved one.

caring for aging parents


Below are some commonly asked questions about caregiving for aging parents.

How do I know if my loved one needs caregiving support?

Look for the signs. For example, difficulty with daily activities like bathing or dressing and changes in hygiene. Extreme forgetfulness, unexplained bruises, and the inability to manage medications are also indicators that your loved one might need help.

What are some of the challenges of caregiving?

The challenges of caregiving are many and varied. For example, emotional stress, balancing work and caregiving duties, financial strain and navigating the healthcare system are common issues.

What are some tips for managing caregiving for elderly parents from a distance?

First, consider periodic visits or extended stays to assess the situation and provide hands-on support if needed. Stay in regular contact by phone or use technology for virtual check-ins. We also recommend you find helpful local resources for your loved one.

How can I balance caregiving with my own life and responsibilities?

It’s essential you set boundaries and seek help from family or hired caregivers if at all possible. Make sure you practice self-care too.

How do I know if I need additional help as a caregiver?

If you feel overwhelmed or exhausted, and are neglecting your own health, you probably need some help.

How can online support groups help?

You may not have time to attend an in-person support group, but online groups can provide much needed assistance. Here caregivers can share experiences, seek advice and receive emotional support from others in similar situations. And all from the convenience of your home.

How can I ensure the online resources I use are trustworthy?

Look for resources from reputable organizations. We recommend you check for endorsements or certifications, read reviews and testimonials and consult your healthcare provider for recommendations.


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