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Daughter with elderly dad looking for the blessings of caring for aging parents

The Blessings of Caring for Aging Parents

March 8, 2024
Empty Nest

Spotting the Blessings When Taking Care of Aging Parents

Caring for aging parents changes, enlightens, and grows you in ways you may have never imagined. Along with the weight of tough conversations and difficult decisions, still, you gain many gifts that lead to a deeper, richer understanding of communication, compassion, and service.

For the Christian, navigating this journey with your aging parents, or even alongside your spouse and their parents, inevitably brings a new perspective to your spiritual life. Your prayer life is strengthened as you reach for moments of stillness and counsel with each other and God, and your understanding of Scripture is deepened as you live out selflessness, patience, and honor in new ways. 

So, as you walk this difficult road, we’d like to offer a perspective that allows you to pay attention to the blessings of caring for aging parents. Though the challenges remain, our prayer is that you’ll be encouraged to find samplings of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control throughout this season. These biblical concepts, from the fifth chapter of Galatians, certainly gain new meaning and comfort. 

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” —Galatians 5:16-17

Ask the Holy Spirit to help you walk with Him and ignite in you the fruit of the Spirit.  

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” —Galatians 5:22-23

Middle aged husband and wife with elderly parents looking for the blessings of caring for aging parents


The act of caring for your aging parents is love. In the small momentsassisting them in and out of the carand the big moments—learning to navigate a dementia diagnosis—you’re honoring them, which is one of the best ways you can love them. 

“And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” —Colossians 3:14


As a Christ follower, remember the joy of the Lord is your strength, so hold firm to the joy within you, and be cautious to base your joy on your circumstances. However, some situations will just make you laugh, so don’t beat yourself up. In fact, here’s a tip: remember to laugh! Not only do kids say the darndest things, but elderly parents do, too. Next time they lose their filter in a public place and decide to tell you about their sex life, find the funny amid the embarrassment. 

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” —Romans 15:13


“Shifting the mind into lower gear can bring better health, inner calm, enhanced concentration and the ability to think more creatively.” —Carl Honoré

Spending time with elderly parents can be likened to shifting your mind into lower gear—it helps you move slowly because you have no choice. It’s in this new, quieter pace you receive the gift of peace. Pray this prayer, “Lord, help me to be still and know that you are God.” Inviting the peace of God into your daily life and into caring for your parents wards off giving your to-do list more power than it deserves. 


The word patience in Galatians 5 is translated from the Greek word makrothumia—makros means long, distant, far, and thumos means an outburst of passion, wrath. Makrothumia is defined as long-suffering. What does this mean for you as you’re moving through your days in the world of eldercare? Amid the long days, there will likely be many times that stir within you a passionate anger. In these fiery moments, the Holy Spirit within you is cultivating patience, the ability to be even-tempered and not controlled by your anger. 

The blessing? While you’re waiting for answers to health issues and living circumstances, you’re refining your patience. Patience will show up as the gift of “found time,” when you’re sitting in waiting rooms and your parents are vulnerably sharing their concerns or retelling a favorite memory for the fifth time. 


Kindness isn’t just being nice or well-behaved. Kindness implies qualities like sympathy, benevolence, and compassion. Though you certainly would prefer to not spend your time in rehabilitation facilities or hospitals, who is the Lord crossing your path with that needs a dose of kindness? Being kind is a gift you can give to the people that are taking on the most difficult jobs like your parents’ caregivers, nurses, and other family members moving through this journey with you. While you’re at it, be kind to yourself, too. You’re not imagining it. This is hard. 


Though it seems like a synonym for kindness, goodness has a bit more spiritual quality; goodness is the outward expression of kindness. It stems from discerning right from wrong and doing the right thingthe good thingeven when it’s difficult. It’s having the desire to serve out of a spirit of generosity because you know in your soul it’s of value and the best, right choice. Specifically in this season of life, relying on the Holy Spirit to develop goodness in you will allow you to minister to the needs of your aging parents with a tenderness and sweetness you might not exude otherwise. 


Eldercare is a long game. No matter how sincere your desire to care for your elderly parents, there will be situations that test your fortitude to stand by them through thick and thin. In these times, delve into prayer and reach out to friends and family for support—this may be the refreshment you need to keep going. If you’re feeling alone, ask God to place people and resources in your path. And, keep your eye on the goal—to love and care for your parents. Being faithful and steadfast is a quality you’ll need to get through the wilderness of not knowing what is coming next. 


Gentleness is a really cool quality you’ll certainly develop when caring for elderly parents. As they move into the dying process, their body becomes more frail, their voice becomes softer, and their skin and hair become thin…requiring very gentle care. To be gentle is to be free of harshness, especially if your parents are losing their mental acuity. They may lash out at you, and what could be seen as anger is really fear. The gentle response will turn away wrath. As you refine your ability to free yourself of harshness, it becomes easier to hold their hands through an incredibly confusing state.  Gentleness is a gift that will serve you for the rest of your life.   


Just like eating clean and exercising regularly, self-control is a characteristic that adds immense value to your life and will help you sustain drive and achieve goals. But when you’re in the middle of an overwhelming situation, isn’t it more fun to eat brownies, scroll through social media, or binge-watch a favorite TV show? Yes and no.  

Self-control will be a gift you give to yourself. Self-control means restraint exercised over one’s impulses, emotions, or desires; however, we know that biblically this is not possible without the Holy Spirit. Think of self-control as self-discipline, correcting oneself for the sake of improvement. When you hold fast to the other qualities of the fruit of the Spirit, you’ll inevitably gain a level of self-control, which will enable you to exercise love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and goodness more deeply. It’s a fruitful, pun intended, cycle. 

Caring for aging parents will be one of the most rewarding things you will ever do. Like most rewarding things, it will also be difficult and overwhelming. Making time for prayer and meditating on Scripture can be a great source of comfort, wisdom, and protection when your tank is empty and you need rest. Just diving into a passage like Galatians 5 can help you feel less alone and hold fast to the truth that God understands and is here with you. He is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control. Praise God! 

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