Why is it that we truly have to find out some things for ourselves, no matter how many times we are told? For example:

  • “Adult-ing” is hard.
  • There won’t always be a right or a wrong answer to some problems.
  • Kids will grow up way too fast.
  • When you are 50, you won’t think that’s old.

But here is one that most people are never told:

  • At some point you will likely need to parent your parents.


Most people don’t see that one coming. From the time we can remember, our parents have been our protectors, our mentors and as we grew into adults, our friends. But now you see them aging. Some develop serious health problems or dementia and they no longer are able to care for themselves. Talk about a role reversal!

Suddenly we are worried about their finances. God forbid that someone would be taking advantage of them. What are their wishes? Do they have a will and power of attorney documents in place? Are they safe? What if they fall? Did mom remember to eat and take her medications?

Does any of that sound familiar? If so, you are like thousands of other people who are suddenly catapulted into this realm of reversed roles.

And you never saw it coming…

Frankly, it just seems unnatural. For some, it will go smoothly and each will settle into their new role. Your parent will look to you for advise and counsel. They will want you to be involved and help them make decisions. Others? Well, remember those temper tantrums you threw as a kid? Karma is coming for you.

It then becomes a question of balance. If your parent has dementia, then the direction is more clear. But perhaps they have a sound mind, just not always sound judgement. For reasons I surely don’t understand, some elders begin to lose the capacity (even with sound minds) to accurately judge their limitations and deficits. They drive when they are no longer safe, they climb ladders when they have no business doing so at 83, they argue that they are perfectly capable of managing their own medications, but from the prescription refill history it is obvious that they are not managing quite as well as they report.

My own dad will be 88 this year and he might say that once you reach that age you are fighting for every single last morsel of independence. He would likely add that he doesn’t want to be a burden to others and in all honesty, it’s scary getting that old. He’s often told me, “Honey, getting old isn’t for sissy’s.” I’m pretty sure he is right about that.

Whenever possible work together. Bring a third party in to add clarity and perspective. Perhaps your parent doesn’t want to move into a senior living community. Could you compromise on private, in-home care? Perhaps their medications could be prepackaged into dosing bubbles or packs to make accuracy more attainable. Call your local area on aging and look into some type of pendent system so that they are able to reach help at the touch of a button should an emergency arise.

When the time comes for these tough conversations or to try and figure out what next step is best, consult with a Certified Senior Advisor. They can help you navigate this reversal of roles. Questions? Please feel free to reach out at 402.429.8891 or by email at BFriesen@YourOasisAdvisor.com