Making Decisions for Your Elderly Parents

There comes a point in everyone’s life where you stop being the child and start being the carer. It might creep up on you with gradually more and more responsibility falling on your shoulders or it might be a sudden shift. And even though you know that this happens to the vast majority of people, it doesn’t make it any easier.

Making any decisions on your parents’ behalf feels a bit odd to begin with, but when they are incapacitated or simply need someone else to make the right judgement with them, you will start to realise that every decision is about organising priorities.

Talk to Your Parents

Speaking to your parents about what they want is incredibly important and you should talk to them about their wants and needs frequently. In this age, it is likely that your parents had to care for their parents and so have an idea of what you are going through too. Make it easier for them by listening to their preferences and discussing your own ideas openly.

Many parents will most want to express their wishes regarding where they live and who cares for them. While it is fine for them to have an opinion, you might also need to tell them what you think is best and be able to reach a compromise. Caring for elderly people at home can be expensive and put a lot of pressure on young families so talk about a range of living options including home help and residential apartments.

Request Power of Attorney

A power of attorney is a legal document that allows a trusted person to make decisions on your behalf, or in your case, will allow you to make decisions on your parent’s behalf. This document is especially important for elderly people who are at risk of losing their capacity to make decisions, such as people with dementia.

Having power of attorney makes it much simpler for you to make decisions on your parents’ behalf when they aren’t able to. For example, if it is clear that your parent’s need a care home, you may use your power of attorney to make that decision for them, though you should, of course, explain and discuss your reasons for doing so. Have a look at for an idea of what to expect.

Remember Your Priorities

Safety, health and happiness are at the top of everyone’s list of priorities, especially in later life and this is what you should always be thinking of as you make decisions on their behalf, even when they are resistant to change. Moving someone into a care home or arranging for someone to come to the house each day might not be something your parents are particularly happy about but if they are safe and healthy, it is a reasonable compromise to make.

When you love and know your parents well, making the right decision may not always be easy but it will always give you peace of mind that they are okay. Whatever you choose is in their best interest and yours, and doing your best to achieve that is all that ever really matters.