It can happen quickly: your role of being a son or a daughter shifts into being in charge of your parent’s care.

If your parents are getting up there in age, it’s important to think about their future care.

Look for red flags. It can be difficult to keep track of your parents if they live far away. If you visited your parents’ house during Christmas, think back to the condition it was in. Was it clean? Was there anything potentially dangerous (a loose rug, too many stairs, fire hazards, clutter)?

How did they look? Was there a significant weight gain or loss? Did they seem to be flustered or forgetful of things they typically wouldn’t be?

Talk about it before it becomes an issue. Sit down with your siblings and your parents and develop a plan. This way, you can begin the conversation, and everyone can give ideas. Discuss senior living choices. Is caring for them while they stay in their own home an option? Is one sibling willing to act as caregiver? What about finances?

It’s much easier to talk with your parents about it when they are still physically and mentally sound rather than waiting until something has happened and you are forced into making fast decisions while in crisis mode.

If you already find yourself taking care of your elderly or ill parents, here are a few more things to keep in mind:

Ask for help. If you have other siblings, don’t be afraid to ask for help from them. They have to know that you can’t do it all, as much as you might try. Designate jobs for them or ask them to rotate care with you.

Locate the important documents. Find out where your parents keep their documents: birth certificates, insurance cards, wills, and financial records. Also, know what kind of prescriptions they take (name, amount, and doctor who prescribed them).

Take care of yourself. Caring for your aging parent can become a full time job. Remember to take care of yourself, too. In the tough times, it can be difficult to remember to check in with yourself. Make time to exercise, to make a balanced meal, and to rest. You might not be able to get a solid eight hours of sleep each night, but aim for at least six. And during the day, rest when you can.

Look for support. Watching a parent age and/or become ill is difficult. Make sure you have someone you can turn to. Talk with a sibling, a friend, or your significant other. It might be beneficial for you to talk with a therapist as well. They can help you sort through some of the difficult feelings and questions you might be having.

You can contact Reka by phone at 402-881-8125, by email at, or via Twitter or Facebook.

photo credit: Ravensthorpe via photopin cc