Aging is a part of life, but watching your parents grow older is one life change that no one is prepared for.

A child depends on a parent from birth and throughout adulthood. For many children, parents give security and comfort, while ensuring they meet their children’s needs. That deep bond can’t be duplicated. As a result, it makes it harder for children to see their parents in a different role other than a caretaker.

Children face an emotional journey, as they come to terms with caring for an elderly parent. It is not easy, but there are approaches people can take to preserve their emotional well-being.

Accept Them for the Person They Are in the Present

It can be challenging to grapple with watching the person who raised you decline. It can be a stressful and eye-opening experience to witness a parent no longer capable of fulfilling that caregiving role. The shift in dependency is hard to accept, which makes the desire to deny the inevitable a common response. 

However, living in denial does not slow the aging process. In fact, it could contribute to greater frustration. Children will have to assume the responsibilities of a caregiver. Although not easy, learning to accept a parent for their current stage of life leaves space for normalizing the conditions of old age.

Get to Know Your Parents Better as People

Growing up with parents who shield you from life’s worries plays a role in how children view them. Children understand their parents to be their protectors and caretakers. During those moments when your parents seem unrecognizable, reminding yourself that they are experiencing this new chapter of life for the first time helps to humanize their current condition.

Hearing more about their upbringing, favorite memories, regretful mistakes and life before parenthood helps with getting to know the person under the parental role. Additionally, it is important to note that discovering the human in them does not take away those shared childhood memories. 

Embrace the New Normal

Aging is a natural part of life, which means that change is going to happen. While change is scary, instead of focusing on memories from the past, consider creating new experiences to cherish. Whether designating a day to do an activity with your parents or developing a different family tradition, appreciating the present moment makes those tough days easier to manage.