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Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother—Caring for Aging Parents

By Mormon.org

Family Matters

Family matters. In fact, family relationships require our best effort. Modern prophets have declared, “Family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children,” reminding us that the commandment to “honour thy father and thy mother” (Exodus 20:12) applies throughout our lives. But how can we effectively honor our parents as they age?

President Ezra Taft Benson taught: “To honor and respect our parents means that we have a high regard for them. We love and appreciate them and are concerned about their happiness and well-being. We treat them with courtesy and thoughtful consideration. We seek to understand their point of view.” When determining how best to keep this commandment as we care for aging parents, here are a few things to consider.

Motivated by Love

There is no one solution for the varied family circumstances surrounding elderly care because every family is unique. There is, however, one driving force that can influence decisions and guide the way. That force is love. Perhaps in no other setting is Christ’s commission to “love one another; as I have loved you” (John 13:34) more applicable than within the family. As parents age, families may need to consider alternate forms of care such as in-home assistance, living with family members, or living in care facilities. As we consider the options and make decisions through the lens of love, our vision will be clear and our motives will be pure.

A Family Is a Team

As the central unit in God’s plan for us, a family should work together as a team to achieve success, especially when caring for aging parents. Family members should unite in creating and implementing a long-term plan for care. This planning should include both parents and children and should start long before needs arise. President Benson counseled, “We ought to honor [parents] by allowing them freedom of choice and the opportunity for independence as long as possible.” When independence is no longer an option, children should share responsibilities and support each other in the chosen form of care for parents.

Seek Heavenly Help

As with all important decisions, determining the best way to care for aging parents should be a matter of prayer. Remember, God loves and honors the elderly and is concerned with their well-being. Seek divine inspiration through prayer and, as the scriptures teach, “all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive” (Matthew 21:22).

More Information

If you would like more information on caring for aging parents, read “Providing Care for Elderly Loved Ones” and “To the Elderly in the Church” for practical suggestions for determining how best to honor your parents with appropriate care as they grow older.