Caring for your aging parents


If you are one of us who cares for our elderly and aging parents, I want to commend you and encourage you. Maybe you travel daily to your parents’ house to check on them and make sure they have their essentials. Maybe you have taken your parents into your home and you provide for their every need. Maybe you have secured a nursing home or assisted living facility and go either every day or several days a week to give your love and care. And certainly there are many more situations and circumstances in which many of you love and care for your elderly and aging parents.

Regardless of your set-up, you know the added pressure and responsibility this chapter in life brings. And if you feel the way I do, that I love my parents and respect and appreciate all they did for me in my lifetime, you know that it is not a terrible burden, but it still is a reality that calls for faith and fortitude.

One of the most difficult situations many of us have faced, or are facing, or will face is caring for our parents as they are very ill — terminally ill. It is so hard to see these once-strong, once-conquering idols of ours when they are now weak and overcome with a debilitating condition. Certainly we pray for them to get well even when the medical odds are against them. That’s natural. And we pray for the doctors and nurses and all the medical personnel to do their best. But we also pray for ourselves and one another that we, as sons and daughters, might be able to give the love and care needed in such times. And God hears our prayers and He strengthens us and enables us to do what we must do even with our great loss.

And then there is the time we go through with our parents when their physical health begins to fail, one component after another. And because we love and care, we are the ones who take them to their numerous doctors’ appointments. I would venture that your parents have almost the full component of doctors and specialists. Do these appointments ring a bell? Primary Care Physician, neurologist, audiologist, ophthalmologist, ear/nose/throat doctor, dentist, cardiologist, gastroenterologist, urologist, orthopedist, podiatrist, and many more specialists according to the immediate need? What a schedule it is to make all these appointments, keep them straight, and actually get to the right one on the right day at the right time. God help us! And the Good News is that He does! He does!

Another situation that comes with great difficulty and the need for faith and fortitude is when our parents are in good physical condition, but their mental faculties are failing rapidly or have even now failed completely. Alzheimer’s and dementia are cruel blows in this world. It is difficult to learn as much as we can about these cruel conditions and then try to put all that we’ve learned into practice as we attempt to make the lives of our parents as comfortable and normal as possible.

I have not had to deal with the full onset of Alzheimer’s with my parents, but seeing the slow creeping of dementia take over is not easy. I would say that if you are now taking care of your parents with these mental diseases, please seek all the professional help you can, and double the care and support you get for yourself during this time. And know again that God has His Strength and His Grace available to you in full portion!

 The Fourth Commandment of God says, “Honor your father and mother.” What an important relationship God made and honored between parents and children. Notice that God did not have to make a Commandment for parents to love their children. That comes so naturally. But He did know that children would need His Command to make sure that younger children and teens and young adults gave respect and obedience to their parents, and that elderly children made certain to care for their parents until their death. And this is the only Commandment that comes with a promise that as we children do this, we would be blessed with long lives as well. That may not always turn out just the way we wished, but it shows God’s emphasis on this special and beautiful relationship.

So, if you have cared for your elderly and aging parents until their death, you are to be commended. You did the right thing. You overcame obstacles. You persevered with faith and fortitude. Your heart may be at peace for what you gave back to your parents after all they had given to and done for you.

And if you are now or soon will be caring for your elderly and aging parents, please be commended and encouraged to keep up the good work. 2 Thessalonians 3:13 tells us “never grow weary in doing good.”  Caring for your parents is most definitely “doing good,” as we are encouraged and exhorted to not grow weary. And so we will not. Amen.

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