How to Take Care of Yourself While Taking Care of Aging Parents

If you are taking care of elderly parents, are you feeling worn out? Emotionally drained? Isolated? Caregiving can be overwhelming, and it’s common for caregivers to put their own needs last.

Consider this statistic from the Family Caregiver Alliance, “About 60% of caregivers show signs of clinical depression, and caregivers take more prescription medications, including those for anxiety and depression than others in their age group.”

Unfortunately, when we put ourselves last while taking care of elderly parents, we set ourselves up for emotional and mental struggles.

It’s time to quit feeling guilty about caring for yourself while caring for your aging parents. Your elderly parent is relying on you, and you must take care of yourself first so you can continue to be at your best. You will be a better caregiver when you are emotionally, mentally, and physically healthy.

But you may not even know where to start when there are so many demands on your time and energy? We’ve come up with some suggestions for caring for yourself while caring for your aging parents.

1. Get the Help and Day Respite You Need

At times caregivers can feel very alone and unsupported. It’s essential to research the services that can help support you.

Look into government and non-profit agencies that provide support for caregivers and seniors. This website will help you find help in your community. Also, The Family Caregiver Alliance offers many online educational resources.

Another resource in your community is senior communities. Many senior adult communities offer services beyond full residential living for families taking care of elderly parents. This respite relief for caregivers includes short-term respite care and day respite services.

Day respite services are a day out for your loved one – so you can focus on yourself. Whether it’s working, running errands, pampering yourself with a massage, or fitting in a doctor’s appointment, respite relief for caregivers can allow you to take time for yourself.

Short-term respite care is a residential service that will ensure your loved one is cared for when you can’t care for them. Caregivers could utilize this respite relief during surgery, a trip to attend a wedding or graduation, a vacation, or even a family emergency.

2. Manage Your Stress

We know that’s easier said than done, especially when you are in a high-stress caregiving environment. But there are proven ways to reduce stress and protect your mental and emotional health while taking care of elderly parents.


Even 10 minutes of walking a day can increase your melatonin and reduce stress hormones in your body.

Spend Time in Nature

A growing body of research is proving what we’ve known for years: nature is good for the soul. According to the Yale School of the Environment, “… time in nature … is an antidote for stress: It can lower blood pressure and stress hormone levels, reduce nervous system arousal, enhance immune system function, increase self-esteem, reduce anxiety, and improve mood.”

Engage in Stress-Reducing Practices

A daily practice of prayer, journaling, or meditation can help you better face the stresses of each day as you are helping elderly parents.

3. Take Concrete Steps to Protect Your Health

The reality is that whenever any of us feel overwhelmed, healthy choices are usually the first to go. However, you must stay healthy so you can cope with the physical and mental demands of taking care of elderly parents. Don’t give up on healthy habits!

Eat healthy, non-processed food.

We know the demands of helping elderly parents might not leave time for healthy, made-from-scratch meals. However, snacks can be a good way to fit in some quick and healthy options. Grab-and-go snack options could include nuts, granola, fresh fruit, raw vegetables, and yogurt.

Maintain Proactive Health Checkups

It’s easy to let months, even years, slip by without health checkups when you’re busy taking care of elderly parents. It can be hard to even find time to get away (see the respite suggestions above). If you’ve let health checkups go by the wayside, make a goal to set up a physical or appointment this week.


Yes, we’re mentioning exercise again. Just a few minutes a day can keep your heart healthy and your mind sharp – giving you the energy and stamina you need for taking care of elderly parents.

Finding a Healthy Balance While Taking Care of Elderly Parents

We hope you’ll set some goals today to take concrete steps towards a healthier life. Caring for yourself while caring for your aging parents is an important priority for both you and those you are caring for.

We know that it can be hard to find the time to care for yourself, and that’s why Menno Haven offers ElderDay to support caregivers in Chambersburg and the surrounding areas.

While the ElderDay team of committed professionals supports your loved one, you’ll have time away from caregiving to focus on your own needs. Contact us today to schedule a free visit and learn more about respite relief for caregivers.