Penelope Wilson
Penelope Wilson
October 2, 2020 ·  6 min read

10 Duties We Have Towards Our Parents When They Get Older

I was recently reading a post on Facebook that got me wondering how wrongly this generation has twisted several beautiful values. A lady was arguing that adult children do not owe their parents love and care in their old age. In her opinion, no child chose to be born, so they do not have to be under the obligation to take care of any elderly people many decades later.

It was a well-articulated article that would definitely convince some people, and this particular school of thought has been gaining quite the popularity for a long while now. You’d find countless articles and videos online debating whether or not adults should even be obliged to take care of their parents.

It’s also one of the most unfair things I’ve ever read. The cycle of life is a beautiful one and it shouldn’t be subject to narcissistic 21st-century debates. We may not be legally obligated to take care of our folks, but it’s a huge moral responsibility. [1] When we have children, we give every single thing we have to raise them right and take care of them, to protect them and be there for them despite what may come their way. To love and to hold, to teach, and to nurture. When we are old, weak, and frail, who will take care of us if not the children we cared for? It’s not just about financial provision. Many people may earn pensions and may have savings tucked away for their welfare during their golden years. However, they still need people to protect and care for them, to cradle their fragile hearts, and listen to their needs as aged persons.

 It’s a beautiful thing and we must accept the physical, moral, and ethical responsibilities we owe to our parents. If you are lucky to still have your parents alive and depending on you in your adult years, you should be there for them.

Below are 10 wonderful obligations we owe to the ones we love: 

Make time for them

Moving out of your parents’ house and striking out on your own does not mean they stop being your parents. Especially when they are aged, you should try to check up on them frequently. We often get so “busy” that we neglect calling our parents for weeks and months, and it’s really not an excuse. If you can’t make it to their home physically, regular phone calls would have to do. If not for anything, but for the fact that they’ll always be happy to hear the sound of your voice. You may have a family of your own now, with a job to focus on and children depending on you, but always remember that your parents gave you every single day of their lives. They deserve to be a major part of your adult life too.

Always defend them

Elderly people have to battle with people taking their concerns and issues too lightly. Especially with medical problems, always listen to your parents and insist the doctor follows through with some tests to put their minds at ease. When their symptoms are chalked up to “just old age” and no one is taking them seriously, even if you are convinced they are worrying for nothing, speak for them anyway. Remember those times when no one would listen to you and your parents mindlessly defended you. Come through for them now.

Treat them with dignity and respect

It’s not uncommon to find adults constantly engaging in word battles with their parents. Parents sometimes may misunderstand you and try to impose their wishes on your life, but they are still your parents. It’s important to engage them respectfully in conversations while firmly making your own points. Treat them with the dignity they deserve and never make them feel like you’ve outgrown them. It’s often too heartbreaking and no parent should have to stomach those feelings.

Listen to them

Between the ages of 4 and 8, you probably bombarded your parents with so many questions and infant opinions that they probably started hearing your whiny voice in their sleep. My mother used to say that when she finally got a break from my endless questions to sleep, she’d still dream about me asking why water is wet or why the sky is blue.

Now, it’s your turn to listen endlessly. With their complaints, thoughts, needs, opinions, and cheerful conversations, always make it a point to enjoy talking to your parents and listening to the sound of their voices. 

Teach them

Instead of joking every year at Christmas about Grandma’s abysmal technology skills and how she posts half her face on Facebook, teach her to use her devices properly. Everyone enjoys joking about how poorly their aged parents do certain things. They may laugh it off with everyone, but deep down, they may be embarrassed. Always take the time to teach your parents how to do things that confuse them so they don’t feel “too old”. 

Make sure they have a good home

This is where the problem often starts. People are now trying to convince themselves that they do not have to come through for the parents on major fronts such as feeding, health care, and housing. While there’s no legal obligation binding you to care for them, you are fully morally obligated to provide for your parents. A good home is not just a house with a non-leaky roof or bills paid. A good home is a place where they will be well taken care of, comfortable, and happy. If your parents are too old or too sick to live alone, staying with their children or in a standard nursing home are the best options. They deserve to be properly looked after and tended to in their golden years. [2]

Don’t remind them of the things you do for them

It’s important to understand that our parents are not sacrifices or works of charity. We are taking care of them because we love and appreciate them for who they are. Taking care of your parents and acting as if you’re doing them a favor is borderline narcissistic behavior. If you love someone, you’d look after them lovingly and with genuine affection. 

Also, our parents may feel like burdens occasionally. They see you trying to balance your young family with your work life and still have to run around taking care of them. Always let them know that they are not burdens and that you enjoy looking after them. It helps them stay happy.

Respect their wishes

As long as your parents are still mentally capable of making decisions for themselves, always respect their wishes, listen to them, and try to respect their demands. For instance, when your aged mom wants to go live alone in her late husband’s cabin in a deserted area, listen to her and let her explain her reasons for this decision. Validate her wishes, but gently try to make her understand that for her own safety, she has to stay somewhere more populated and safer. Perhaps, you may take her down there with other people to spend some weekends. Our parents may be dependent on us for care and protection now, but they are still individuals who have wishes and it’s our responsibility to listen to them.

Parents are true love personified and it should be fulfilling to finally be able to take care of the folks who happily gave so much to see you grow. They deserve it.


  1. Am I Responsible for My Aging Parents?” WebMD. Jenn Sturiale. Retrieved September 19, 2020.
  2. Filial obligations to elderly parents: a duty to care?Med Health Care Philos. Maria C. Stuifbergen and Johannes J. M. Van Delden. Retrieved September 19, 2020.