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Washington State University

Wellbeing Online

Caring for Elderly Adults

Wellbeing -> Elderly

The "sandwich generation" is growing, where adults are talking care of their children and their parents at the same time. Many of us are not prepared for the time, energy and cost of this transition. Here are a few tips to help start the conversation and some resources to educate your family about elderly care options.

Communicating with Elderly Parents

Talking with our elderly parents about their living situations and the possible need for change is not always easy. The following are suggestions for conversations with your elderly parent:

  • Share your own feelings, and reassure your parent that you will support them and can be depended upon to help them solve their problems.
  • Help your parent retain as much control as possible in making his or her own decisions. Respect and try to honor their wishes wherever feasible.
  • Minimize change at each step, so that your parent is more able to adjust to change.
  • Educate yourself on legal, financial and medical matters that pertain to your parent.
  • Respect your own needs- be honest with your parents about your time and energy limits.

Look for the following "danger signals" to know when a lifestyle change might be needed:

  • Sudden weight loss.
  • Failure to take medication or over-dosing inadvertantly.
  • Burns or injury marks.
  • Deterioration of personal habits such as infrequent bathing and shampooing, not shaving, or not wearing dentures.
  • Increased car accidents.
  • General forgetfulness such as not paying bills, missing appointments, or consistently forgetting names.
  • Extreme suspiciousness could indicate some thought disorder.
  • Disorientation of a consistent nature.

Additional Resources