Parental Guidance: Managing the Stress of Caring for Your Folks

Four tips to help you cope as your roles reverse

Just Ask
“We often think that we’re the only ones going through this situation, that nobody is really available to help us, but now is the time to ask for help. And that’s the hard part,” says Karen Lincoln, an associate professor in the School of Social Work at USC.

Drop the Spats
Old sibling rivalries and grievances over workloads are almost inevitable. “Oftentimes you have to change the type of interactions you are having with siblings to make the person who is in need of care the focus,” says Lincoln.

Combine and Conquer
You’ve got kids who need you. You’ve got a parent who needs you. “Find things they both enjoy—activities and opportunities they can do together,” says Amy Rosett, a psychologist based in Encino. “Doing that may even give you a little time to yourself.”

Study Aid
“Powerful Tools for Care-givers,” a free program offered through USC, provides guidance and support. “Participants learn that they’re not alone,” says Lincoln,  “but also tools and skills for being an effective caregiver—and at the same time how to take care of themselves.”

This article originally appeared in the November 2014 issue feature How to Live a Long Life in L.A.