Aging Parents and Adult Children – a Role Reversal that needs looking into

Time for a role reversal – when adult children need to step up and become the caregiver of their elderly parents

If you are the son, daughter or caregiver of an aging parent or elderly loved one life can be very challenging and very frustrating. We often cannot understand why our parents cannot understand or remember things or why their tidy home is now more and more cluttered with stuff. This can lead to frustration, anger and resentment, not to mention be outright dangerous to your aging loved one.

This is a sensitive topic that needs to be talked about. It seems quite common for our elderly loved ones to live many years beyond expectations of just a few years ago. Today it is quite common for our loved ones to live well into their 90’s. 

This is part of a continuing series of articles and insights by Nick and Joe Santoro of Personal Property Managers, senior real estate and senior transition specialist servicing Pennsylvania and New Jersey ( ). 

Are you prepared for a role reversal where the child becomes the adult and the adult needs more and more direct care? Are you the adult child of an elderly parent or loved one? Have you been by to see how your folks are living? If not, it’s probably time to pay a thorough visit because ultimately, their home environment and everything in it and around it will be your concern–in a big way.

Are you absolutely your aging loved ones home safe? Can your parent negotiate through their house without the risk of falling over stuff accumulated over the years? When you walk into their home do you feel “squeezed” for space? Is every possible surface, including the floor, covered with their stuff? Do you have to step around things to get from one room to another? Is there too much furniture? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, it’s time to clear the clutter and look after your aging loved ones physical safety.

Besides general clutter and excess in their home, have you bothered to check the food pantry or refrigerator/freezer contents lately? Many of the seniors we work with have homes that are completely filled with stuff from by gone years.  In addition, have you looked into the refrigerator? Are they eating expired foods; do they even know to look for expiration dates of foods that can make them gravely ill?. Just a quick heads up….when you begin sorting through their cabinets, freezer and refrigerator, sorting through the good from the bad? In fact, prepare yourself for a possible challenge regarding the disposal of expired food items. Remember, in many cases, your elderly loved ones lived through the Depression, so throwing out anything is hard for most of them.

Another huge issue when going through your elderly loved ones home is its overall and general cleanliness, or lack thereof. Have you checked to see if your parents are living in a filthy or less than clean environment? Who’s cleaning for them if they’re not able? We’re seeing more and more really nasty living conditions from the kitchen to the bathroom.

What about the medicine cabinet? Have you looked through it recently if at all? If you see expired medications or medications that are no longer taken, get rid of them.

What about hoarding?  Look around. What do you see? We can tell you that we’re experiencing an increase in clients with just too much stuff…everywhere. This is where adult children need to step it up, and get involved and take control of this situation. Even if your elderly loved ones have a desire, many hoarding seniors are unable to admit their problem or simply have no idea how to begin paring down their stuff. It’s time to have a sit-down with mom and dad and begin the process of eliminating the excess in their homes, if for nothing else other than their own safety to simply be able to move about without tripping over something.

In addition, please think about what you say and how you say it. The difference here is how you say it. Don’t sound critical or angry; say it gently and with a friendly smile.
The most important thing is that as our parents or elderly loved ones age that we go out of our way to maintain good relationships and look after them. In many cases, for adult children this is a complete role reversal.

For more insights into working with seniors in transition, or downsizing services, content liquidation, full service real estate service or moving services, please contact Nick Santoro and Joe Santoro of Personal Property Managers at 215-485-9272 or 908-368-1909 servicing New Jersey and Pennsylvania 


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