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4 Ways to Support an Older Parent Without Feeling Overbearing

For many adult children, roles will eventually shift — if they haven’t already — to where they will need to provide care and support for an older parent. This support can mean anything from providing 24/7 care for cognitive or physical issues to handling minor tasks that an older adult needs more assistance with. 

The main issue that many adult children encounter with this change is that the parent they’re caring for can feel micromanaged and stifled. To handle this transition, you’ll need to create balanced strategies so that your parent still has all the autonomy they need while you provide them with adequate support to keep them safe, happy, and healthy.

Below, you’ll find some ways that you can provide support to your parent without the care feeling overbearing. 

4 Ways for you to Provide Support

  • Letting a Parent Dictate and Take the Lead

While it may be easier for you to swoop in and do tasks on your own, this can actually make your parent feel micromanaged! Instead of doing this, you’ll want to:

  • Be more self-aware
  • Suggest choices rather than order
  • Encourage them to take the lead with simple tasks around their home
  • Have them dictate when your help is needed. 

By doing this, you’ll not only help your parent maintain some of their independence, but this autonomy allows them to build more self-confidence and keep their behavioral and physical skills sharp. 

  • Set up Safety Nets

Setting up safety nets around your parent’s home is a great way to prioritize safety without intruding on their independence. These safety nets can include anything like home modifications (grab bars, non-slip floor mats, etc.) and assistive devices (mobility aids, organizers, etc.). 

By providing your parents with the right materials they need, you can increase their chances to adapt and stay confident while remaining healthy and happy!

  • Create a Sacred Space 

Creating a sacred space for your parent in their home is a crucial part of autonomy. They need to have full control over this defined space so that they have somewhere they know they can go to relax when they feel stressed, tired, etc.  

The great part about this is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money or time to create a sacred space because your parent will more than likely have everything they need at home already! Think about what makes your parent the happiest, and include that in their space (books, comfy chair, arts & crafts supplies, etc.)

  • Don’t be Afraid to Respectfully Step In

Because your parent’s well-being is a priority, you may have to take charge and respectfully take over certain situations when they arise. This often occurs with older adults who have cognitive and severe health issues. They may not realize trying to maintain their routine or doing certain tasks puts them at risk, so you’ll need to step in to keep them safe.

To step in respectfully and efficiently, you’ll need to be clear, precise, and kind with why you have to take on a task by yourself or why you’ll need to assist your parent. Always let them know that everything you’re doing is for their own safety and that you’ll do anything to make sure they’re happy and healthy.

Additional Resources

Family Caregiving Resources from AARP

How to Work with Aging Parents That Resist Help

Preserving the Dignity of Our Aging Parents



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