By Mayo Clinic Staff

Aging parents

Adult children often serve as caregivers for aging parents. Although monitoring the health and independence of parents may seem daunting, there are steps you can take to ease stress and be well prepared.

Start with some basic questions. Are your parents safe in their home? Are they able to take care of daily tasks, such as shopping, driving and paying bills? How is their mood? Do your parents have trouble with mobility? Talk with your parents if you have any concerns about their health or safety.

As a caregiver, take time to prepare for emergencies. Make a list of your parents' doctors and other health care team members. Write down their medicines, past surgeries, insurance information and other important medical details. Talk with them about their preferences for housing and long-term care. Discuss living wills and other legal documents that outline their wishes if, at some point, they cannot communicate.

Although caregiving can be rewarding, caregivers often face challenges. If you need a break from caregiving or would like assistance, ask family members or other loved ones for help. If you or your parents need services or support, contact organizations that provide caregiving resources in your community.

Alzheimer's caregiver

Providing care for someone who has Alzheimer's disease can be physically and emotionally hard. It often takes a great deal of patience, compassion and strength. Whether you've been an Alzheimer's caregiver for years or you're just learning to cope with the disease, don't go it alone. Look to friends, family and community resources for support and guidance.

As you care for your loved one, look for meaningful ways to interact and communicate. Talk with the health care team about how to best keep your loved one safe. Understand that the challenges for people who have Alzheimer's and for their caregivers often change as time goes by. Talk with the health care team to learn how to prepare for the tough situations and choices that may be ahead.

It's important to remember your own needs too. Don't ignore warning signs of caregiver stress and burnout. Take time for yourself, and ask for help.

Sept. 07, 2023