Is caring for elderly parents harder than caring for children?

I don't have children but even after years of caring for an elderly parent, I still find it hard to make all these decisions for care for another person, like chosing the right doctors, dentists, making medicial choices, when to push for certain behaviors and when to let it go etc. I get anxiety and stressed, wondering if I am doing the right thing. I wonder if caregiving comes easier for certain personality types or those with a certain attitude or the reality is that caring for elderly on your own is a really hard job. Do those of you who had children and now care for parents find it the same or harder dealing with the basics?

Answers 1 to 10 of 10
Top Answer
Well, I have raised a son, who is now 19, and I can tell you it is different to take care of a parent than a child. With a child, you are teaching them new things, helping them learn to deal with life. With a parent, it is the opposite, they know how to do things (heck, they taught you!), but can no longer do them.
Raising my son was stressful, but watching my Mom move backwards is harder. I find it strange how we are born not knowing how to take care of ourselves, we grow up and do take care of ourselves, then as we get older, we lose that ability again. There have been times when taking care of my Mom is like taking care of a toddler again, it is heartbreaking
Yes, caring for my Mom is much harder for one main reason. You are expected to provide guidance..."give orders" to your children and expect them to follow your rules. My Mother is still alert enough to know when I am taking over the role as parent, making her aware that she isn't able to make decisions on her own. It really hurts her for me to "tell" her what she must do...like take a bath, change clothes, etc. I am constantly trying to take care of her needs without her losing her role as "parent".
I think it is harder taking care of a parent than a child.Children do not always question what and why you are doing certain things for them.They are also alot smaller to give a bath,change etc..
I consider myself a born caregiver in life...with my mom this is the hardest thing i have ever done.
Parent is definitely harder. I agree with all above comments.

One reason that has not been mentioned is caregiver age. I'm a senior now and I get tired more easily. When I was taking care of my son I was much younger and had more energy. Trying to schlep my 92 year old deaf mother around is extremely tiring.
I'm a 32 year old mother of 3 small kids (6, 5 and 1) plus caretaker for my disabled parents who live with me. Thankfully, my dad can do most things by himself, but my mom sometimes needs help after suffering a traumatic brain injury which left her partially paralyzed. Both of them, though, have pretty severe mental health issues including memory loss. I cook, clean, handle their finances, dole out medication, carry them to the doctor, all while changing diapers for my child, carrying my two girls to school and back, taking the kids to the doctor, doing all of their activities. It is hard, and I am thankful that I am young enough to have energy to be able to keep up with it.

I must say that raising children is a cakewalk compared to caring for elderly parents (I may change that opinion when my children reach the dreaded teenage years, though). Children are a blank slate, you are forming your experiences with them as you go, and they look up to you. For the most part, they do what you say, they argue, of course, but eventually they comply. With your parents, you have years of experience with them already, and there is so much anger, frustration and resentment on both sides. It's very difficult to experience role reversal - your parents still think they know what's best, and they often don't listen. They're dealing with their loss of independence, and you're dealing with it as well. Being a young adult watching my parents deteriorate when they were so recently vital and independent has been difficult. I cannot imagine what they are going through. And I try to keep that in mind when dealing with them - if I'm having a hard time with it, they are having a harder time.
I think caring for my elderly parent is much harder than my child ever was. Sometimes I think my mom is stuck in the "terrible two" stage. She has toileting accidents and denies it, super picky about food, undresses frequently, frequent meltdowns, dosent want to take medicine, colors on the wall (just kidding)..and the list goes on. Post partum depression was nothing compared to the mental pain I get when dealing with my mother.
absolutely! caring for a parent is so much harder. I was a single parent since my kids were 2yrs and 4yrs old when their Dad passed. I remained single to raise them. I worked more than one job usually. Still, looking after my Mother is much harder. With your kids, you get to progress with them. Our society puts all it's emphasis on "progression". They don't teach you about "regression". With your parents, you are in this position because they are regressing at a rate that doesn't keep them safe. You still won't find many places to learn about regression and how to handle it. However, find a good Caregiver's support group and keep going to it, even on the good weeks. You will get valuable support, information, and a place to vent safely.
I also have no children but I do think it is different. My mother was also strong and willful woman and once in a while I still see that woman but it is very heartbreaking. I'm sure it is very hard for her she used to care for elderly patients and I have heard nurses do make bad patients and I'm finding t his to be very true. My mom is a fighter she broke her hip last year and completely recovered from that came home from nursing home. I have been caring for my mom now for almost 20 years and also cared for my dad financially and medically. My siblings liked to pretend they didn't need help but I couldn't bear to leave my parents alone suffering and my father must have known his kids well because they asked me (baby of the familY) to care for both of them they knew the others wouldn't be around at all to help. In the end I know I will have done everything I can to help her. I have just started this site Im sure it will help me a lot. My mom goes to an adult daycare center but the caregiver support is always when I'm working I may have to take a day off to do that because somedays its so upsetting i just want to sit in the corner and cry like a baby.
Yes I find it much more difficult to care for my parents then it was to care for my 2 daughters who now have children of their own.
I don't have children either, but i think it might be ... not easier exactly but maybe less difficult because when RAISING children, your efforts and pains and tears and joys are going toward a positive, hopeful, and wondrous future whereas when helping the elderly ease into the inevitable, well I think you get what I'm saying...
i do believe though, that if more young people had to caregive for the elderly, we might have less of a population problem!

Share your answer

Please enter your Answer

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support