Being a Caregiver for Aging Parents

Being a Caregiver for Aging Parents

I was 37, a wife, a mom to two pre-teen kids, and an adult graphic arts student carrying 13 units when I got the news that my mom had lung cancer. The prognosis was dire and I was told I was to be the point person, the caregiver of my mom.


Being a caregiver to one of my parents at that time of my life was stinkin’ hard. What I didn’t know at the time….that was just the beginning of a 16 year journey with my mom and my grandparents.


Hard things happen in life but getting the news that a parent is sick and dying isn’t what you expect when they are in their 50s. I was already a caregiver to my growing, very busy pre-teen kids. 

I had decided to return to school and pick up where I had left off after getting my Associate of Arts degree in Art and Interior Design and go for a Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Arts. I knew I’d have to dive into the classes that I had always avoided like Speech & Debate and Psychology. 

My mom’s cancer journey only lasted 3 months which in a way, I’m very thankful for. I don’t know what is harder, a prolonged illness that lasts for years or a sudden loss of a loved one. I’ve experienced both. 

Grappling with the loss of their only child, my grandparents turned to me, their oldest grandchild to fill the shoes that my mom left behind. In a way, I became their daughter. My grandmother said to me several times, “It was your mom, now it is you”. 

For the following 15+ years I walked with them as a daughter and caregiver until they both passed away. 

What I want to share with you today are some lessons I’ve learned that I’m hoping will be helpful if you are in a similar season of being sandwiched between caring for your growing family and your aging parents.


This is true no matter what your season of life is but it’s especially true when you are a caregiver. 

You are on an exhausting journey that is so daily and stressful. 

My grandmother moved in with us for 2 years and the first year was pretty smooth. Things changed drastically during year 2 with her mental health. The stress of having that in our home caused my husband to get shingles. The doctor asked him if he was under any stress. Uhhhh yes! 

We knew that we needed to take care of our health by changing the living situation for my grandmother. 


This is a hard one but true. We thought we were the only ones experiencing this but conversations with others in our situation taught us that it’s usually the case. 

As my grandmother’s mental health started to decline she became angry and accusatory toward me but she was kind and willing to listen to my husband. Knowing this, he partnered with me to be the good guy and defuse some very hard situations.


My grandmother started having erratic heart palpitations that concerned the doctors enough to make her stop driving. She was in her late 80s or so and she was fiercely independent. Losing the ability to just “go for a little drive” was like cutting her legs off. 

I remember standing in the hospital corridor outside my grandmother’s room and telling the doctor that this news would devastate her. I knew I would be the ultimate bag guy forever and ever if I delivered the news. He became our life saver that day when he suggested that HE share the news with her. That way HE would be the bad guy. 

From that day forward when she got angry about the loss of her license and her car we pointed it all back to the doctor so she couldn’t put the blame on us. We will be forever grateful for that doctor’s advice. 

So, whenever you can, let the doctor be the bad guy.


Help can be expensive when it comes to healthcare and living facilities but there is other kind of help you can get for little to no money


Get the email contact information for their doctor so you can ask questions and get advice. 

I realize that lots have changed in the 13 years since my grandmother passed away but having email conversations with her doctor on a weekly basis was crucial for us. She provided us with resources that we were unaware of at the time. 


There is a non-profit organization near us that provides free-to-loan equipment that we used to provide for my grandmother’s needs. We even used them when my husband was rehabilitating from knee replacement surgery. 


This is a resource that we did not use because we had some good friends surrounding us with support but it may be something that you find helpful.


Our local hospice providers were willing to access my grandmother’s health and answer many of our questions. Even if your loved one is not ready for hospice but they are not thriving, they may be very helpful in providing some next step answers for you. 


After several visits to the Emergency Room with my grandmother and fielding all the questions about her medications and health insurance, I decided to put all that information  in a bright orange binder that I could quickly grab before we headed out the door. 

In addition, I added some legal paperwork including Power of Attorney and Advanced Health Care Directive. 

Having all of that information in one place made those hospital and doctor visits go a bit more smoothly and it was one less thing I had to remember. 

This is not a complete list of things you need or should do as a caregiver for your parents or elderly loved one but these are the things that helped me on my journey. 

I just want to encourage you if you are somewhere on the path as a caregiver. It is a surreal journey to be caring for someone who used to parent or grandparent you and now you are parenting them. 

If no one else in your life is acknowledging the stress you are going through with this, let me do that for you. 

I see you!! 

I applaud you! 

You are doing the best that you can do and that is awesome!

Take a deep breath!

You are NOT the bad guy!

You are the GOOD guy! 


If I was there with you I’d give you a huge hug and give you my shoulder to cry on!

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1 comment

Funny I was just thinking about you the other day, in the middle of thinking back on Christeena’s prayer group and what Holy Spirit so amazingly did for us all. And then just now I saw your video & link to this blog. I think you know I got married in 2016 and moved to Scotland. We have been back for about 18 months and now live in Carlsbad. I hope you are doing what this blog suggests and that you are ok. God bless you and I will pray for you. Love in Him, Gerrie

Gerrie Louden Bell

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