Caring for a Disabled Parent

Making Decisions for Disabled Parents

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Caring for a disabled parent can present problems that adult children aren’t always prepared for, such as taking over finances, changing diapers or arranging for care in a nursing home. In some cases, children who help care for a disabled parent are under the age of 18. It can be a trying experience, but there are many resources willing to assist those who ask for help.

Adult Children Caring for Disabled Parents

One of the challenges adult children face is preparing for their own retirement while caring for a disabled parent.

 Taking over your parents' finances and deciding where they should live can be stressful. Sometimes your parents want to keep their independence and don't want your input.

For the adult child, deciding to place a parent in a nursing home, even temporarily, can generate feelings of guilt and create stress as well as place a strain on the relationship.

Children Caring for Newly Disabled Parents

Children of a newly disabled parent may have problems adapting to the many changes. If they are very young and used to their mother or father caring for them, it can be upsetting to suddenly not have the same type of support they enjoyed before.

Perhaps mom can no longer make meals on demand, or dad can't play ball outside anymore. This change in family dynamics can cause feelings of anger, loneliness, and frustration.

On the other hand, older children, especially teenagers, may surprise a disabled parent by being more than willing to adapt and take on additional responsibilities.

The bond between parent and child may become stronger as a result of the two individuals having to rely on each other.

It is important for parents to make sure they don’t put too much of a burden on children who may not be old enough to understand “adult problems.” While it's appropriate to share certain aspects of being disabled, such as basic information about your disease or injury, too much information may be stressful to a child or young adult.

When possible, a disabled parent should seek outside adult assistance, either from friends or family members, so they don't overwhelm their children with the responsibilities of caring for a disabled parent.

Seek Support When Needed

Support is available if you need help caring for a disabled parent. The following are some of the many places you can find support for caregivers:

If you’re beginning to feel overwhelmed caring for a disabled parent, don’t hesitate to ask for help from any of these sources. There are people who are ready, willing and able to assist families that need a little, or a lot of help, caring for someone with a disability.

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