Caring for Your Ageing Parents

If your parents are getting on in age, it’s time to start thinking about how best to care for them emotionally and financially. Here’s how to do so with patience and sensitivity. 

Entering your golden years is never easy – and, as you groan each time you bend over, doing it with dignity is even less so. That’s why it’s so important to care for your ageing parents with sensitivity and understanding. Here’s how:

The emotional side

The effects of age can be difficult to swallow, and having to accept a decline in physical ability, as well as mental astuteness, can take its toll on the emotions.  Clinical psychologist, Richard Parry, points out that when this happens, there is a reversal of roles that occurs and adult children have to start parenting their parents. “This loss of autonomy for the older generation is not at all easy, and needs to be handled sensitively,” he says.

The truth is that the process is rarely easy for anyone involved – parents and children alike! Richard acknowledges that “it can be very distressing to see your parents becoming increasingly frail and because of this, we often shy away from having difficult conversations with them.”

Our top tip: Work on communicating regularly, as well as openly and honestly. Patience in your communication is of the utmost importance, as well as an understanding that your parents are not trying to be difficult, but need time to accept their situation and see reason. Remember they are dealing with the pain of losing their independence and the fear of becoming a burden on their children.

The financial side

If you need to become involved in your ageing parents’ finances, this can pose new challenges. Richard emphasises that it’s emotional and a big loss of freedom for parents to start handing over the reins of their financial affairs to their children. But that’s not all – it can cause conflict between siblings as well.

With this in mind, the best thing that you can do is start having important conversations early, as awkward or uncomfortable as they may be (preferably before your parents even retire). Here are some things to consider from a financial perspective:

  • Do your parents have a viable retirement plan in place?
  • Is their retirement income going to be enough to sustain their current needs and lifestyle?
  • Is it necessary to down-size their home to cut expenses?
  • Have their insurance policies been properly updated?
  • Does their medical aid scheme provide suitable cover for their new lifestyle and their inevitable growing need for medical care?
  • Is there a requirement to plan (and save) for long term care?
  • Do they have an up-to-date will?

Our top tip:It may be beneficial to consult with a retirement expert for help when it comes to sorting out these financial considerations, or to work hand-in-hand with a sibling to help prevent misunderstandings and make the process a bit less stressful.

In order to make this a positive process, you’ll need to put in careful planning and work hard to keep communication respectful. Try not to see the responsibility as an inconvenience, but rather the ideal opportunity to spend more quality time together – you’ll be very glad you did.


Choosing the right medical aid is no joke, but we’ll leave you smiling.