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Are your parents getting to the stage where they can no longer fully care for themselves? How your family deals with the aging process is a very individual decision, and there are many possibilities. If you, as your parent's child, are taking on the role of caregiver in any way, that can be quite a challenge particularly if you also have young children to look after.

Some of the choices that can be made when elderly people need to be cared for include independent living with the help of a hired nurse or caregiver, independent living with the help of an in-family caregiver (like you!), and living in assisted living facilities or retirement homes. Adult children can get involved in the care of their parents by managing care offered to them, or they can provide care themselves if they have time.

All of this often causes tensions among children and parents, and among siblings. Dealing with aging parents can be one of the most difficult things a person has ever done, particularly if you don't have a good relationship with your parent or parents. But, it can also provide a unique opportunity to bond with your parent and to learn valuable life lessons from them.

Anna, who actively cares for her mother, a woman in her eighties, shares: "Suddenly, the roles are reversed and you are the one wiping your mom's butt. It is sad, but also gratifying because we're all family and the small things don't matter. My mom is starting to forget stuff and is confused about what day it is, and even which people are still alive. When you try to share memories, it can be shocking to learn that you parent doesn't even remember something that meant so much to you."

Caring for a parent is all about helping your mom or dad age with dignity, and perhaps about allowing them to have as much independence as possible. But it's normal to have mixed feelings about this stage of your life. Talking about it with your siblings can help a lot, if you get on with them. But, therapy can be another wonderful way of venting about your feelings, and learning new coping mechanisms.

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