This article in The Guardian discusses the challenges and opportunities of “parenting” one’s own parents, especially as people live longer.

It highlights the importance of encouraging older parents to engage with technology, as studies show it can improve cognition and memory. The article also talks about the importance of social engagement, physical activity, and nutrition.

Thankfully, my parents, both in their mid-seventies, are doing pretty well :)


Parenting no longer starts and stops with our children. Nor is it confined to those who have children. In a time of unrelenting change and ever-extending life, most of us will – at some stage – find ourselves “parenting” our own parents.

Indeed, many of us – particularly those who had families later – will find ourselves simultaneously parenting our kids and our parents. In one breath we’ll be begging our children to swap French fries for vegetables, and in the next breath we’ll be urging our parents to exchange cake for sardines. Little wonder today’s midlifers are known as the sandwich generation.


Dr Eamon Laird, researcher in health and ageing at Limerick university, agrees that we should be encouraging older parents to try new things. And the further out of their comfort zone they feel, the better. “It’s always good to keep the mind active and fresh,” he told me. “New challenges can help build and maintain new brain connections and can be good for brain and overall health.”


As well as a daily walk, Laird recommends vitamin D and B12 supplements – both of which appear to moderate the chance of depression in older people. “Depression matters,” he added. “Not just because it reduces quality of life, but because in older people there seems to be a link between depression and dementia which we’re still unpacking.”


In truth, anyone over 50 would do well to follow these simple guidelines: engage with something new every day, take a daily walk of at least 20 minutes, socialise regularly, take a daily multivitamin for seniors and check the protein content of our meals. Perhaps we should think of it as self-parenting.

Source: Walks, tech and protein: how to parent your own parents | The Guardian