How to care for your elderly parents

The relationship between parent and child gradually evolves over a lifetime. As parents get older, they need support and the once-established roles become reversed. It’s not always easy for either side adapt to this shift, but with some planning, patience, and practical help it can be a beautiful new phase of your relationship. Here are some tips for dealing with the challenges you might face when looking after mum or dad.

Elderly care is a big responsibility, and it can feel even more significant when it’s your own parents that need help. Whether they need comprehensive care or just a little support now and then, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Discuss what they really need

It’s important to open an honest dialogue as early as possible. The sooner you get used to talking about tough subjects, the easier it’ll be to tackle issues when they come up. Regular open conversation will help you spot warning signs of things like malnutrition or Alzheimer’s.

The first step is identifying what’s needed right now. Be very clear, and write a list of everything that needs doing. That’ll help you figure out whether you can realistically manage it all yourself, if you need to get some extra help from friends, family, or professionals. Don’t offer to do more than you can handle. It’s not sustainable, and if you over commit yourself you’ll likely end up neglecting your own health, which doesn’t help anyone

Make a plan, and stick to a routine

Once you’ve established what’s needed, make a plan. Routine goes a really long way in helping vulnerable people feel settled and safe. Make a weekly timetable and stick it somewhere visible. Remember that as the situation changes, your plan will need updating. Set a reminder to spend 5 minutes reassessing the situation once a month, to make sure you’re still supporting your parents in the best possible way.


If you haven’t cared for an elderly person before, you can’t be expected to get everything right first time. It’s a tough job for anyone, and the added emotional weight of the close personal relationships mean that it’s not always straightforward. Luckily, there are lots of resources to help. Check out our previous posts for a whole range of tips on things to look out for and keep in mind. Age UK have a range of resources, from helplines and advice pages to local community meetups for carers. Click here to see what they can do.

Don’t try to do it all alone

It’s incredibly important that you look after yourself, as well as your parents. It can be hard to do when you feel that their needs are sometimes overwhelming, and sometimes the best thing to do is get some help. Are there other family members who could help more? Or friends or neighbours who might be able to check in and save you a few trips.

It might well be time to think about getting some professional help, too. It might just be an occasional house visit, or something more regular, but it can relieve a huge weight on both you and your parents. Introducing some in-home help early on can also make it easier to integrate into the routine if the time comes when more help is needed.

To talk about how we can help, from occasional companionship visits to comprehensive physical and mental health care in Camden, get in touch.