It's stressful for everyone involved when aging parents experience physical and/or mental decline. A child caregiver may feel crushed over and over again as hope is held for improvements that don't come. Hours and hours of care each week may only serve to bear witness to continued decline.
If you've decided to act as caregiver, know what you've jumped into: One study determined family caregivers spend an average of 21 hours a week providing care for older adults [source: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services].
But some stressful circumstances can be resolved by reaching out to others who can help refer you to services. Try to create a network of assistance specific to your parent's needs.
If your parents are still independent, know that won't always be the case. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that adults now turning 65 will -- over the course of their lifetime -- require three years of long-term care, two of those years being care provided in the home [source: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services].
But caring for and spending time with aging parents can be as rich and rewarding an experience as it is stressful. If you can make peace with the inevitabilities of the situation, you can have more appreciation for the time and experiences still waiting for you and your parents. Being with your aging parent in the final stages of his or her life may very well end up being one of the most beautiful or meaningful experiences of your entire life.
See the next section for lots more information on handling the stress of aging parents.