Adult children and their aging parents alike said prayer helps them handle the stress of their situations. “We really do believe in the power of prayer,” said Bishop of herself and her elderly father, Gene Youngberg. “It’s given us the strength to meet every challenge we encounter.”

Enjoying humor and fun activities together also helps relieve stress and reminds caregivers and their parents that their relationships are about much more than just fulfilling responsibilities. With a little creativity, adult children and aging parents can overcome their limitations to savor simple moments of enjoyment. For example, if a parent is bound to a wheelchair, the parent and caregiver can still go to a park and enjoy a paved nature trail.  

Making the most of the time they have together now can help caregivers and their aging parents face the loss of how life used to be when they were younger. “Sometimes there are awkward moments when you realize that [as parent and child] your roles have been reversed, but if you have the attitude of wanting to help each other no matter what, you’ll get along well,” Bishop said.

“There’s really a chance for those old roles that parents and children had when the children were young to be changed for the better when adult children care for their parents,” said Lynn. “We can’t change history, but we can change how we react to it and how we communicate in the present. And the experience of giving and receiving care can bring adult children and their parents closer together. It can increase their love for each other.”

Even when the stress of caregiving eclipses the loving feelings between adult children and their aging parents, however, they can count on God to provide the strength they need to carry on. “It’s not just warm feelings that motivate us – it’s also a sense of responsibility, of commitment that grows out of our relationship to the person we love and to God,” said the man who cares for his mother-in-law. “When the warm feelings aren’t there, we still choose to act in love toward them.”

As you care for your aging parents, you’ll likely find many resources in your area – from churches to social service agencies – through your local telephone directory. Here are some websites that can connect you to even more help: