Table of contents

  • Family Case Studies
  • 1. Control: Laying on the Guilt Trip
  • 2. Surgery: Weighing the Odds
  • 3. Independence: Helping Parents Live Their Lives
  • 4. Breaking the Mould: The Rebellious Grandmother
  • 5. Tapping the Human Spirit: It Is Never Too Late to Create
  • 6. Substance Abuse: Drinking All Day Keeps Reality Away
  • 7. Sexuality, Romance, and the Family: When Children Worry about Their Parents
  • 8. Culture Clash: Pitting Values Against Needs
  • 9. The Conflicted Single Child: A Confusing Battle of Priorities
  • 10. The Stroke: Sudden Challenges and Changes
  • 11. Dementia and Depression: Reading the Signs
  • 12. Advancing Dementia: When Life Gets More Difficult
  • 13. Technology: Opening New Avenues of Care Management
  • 14. Scams: Seniors Beware
  • 15. Navigating the Health Care System:
  • Knowing How to Get the Help You Need
  • 16. We’re on Our Own: How to Plan for the Future
  • 17. Decision Time: Planning for the Inevitable
  • 18. When Love and the Law Conflict: Who’s Right, Who Has the Right?
  • 19. End of Life: Caring and Sharing
  • 20. Cannabis Concerns: Is Marijuana Only for the Young?
  • 21. The New World of MAID: Moral and Personal Dilemma
  • 22. The Difficulties of Decision-Making: Deciding What Treatments Make the Most Sense
  • 23. Moving On: Living Life without a Loved One
  • 24. Being Sandwiched: Parenting Your Parents and Your Children
  • Our Own Experiences
  • A Time of Trauma Sets the Stage for Years of Hurt, Hope, and Endings by Bart Mindszenthy
  • More than the Birds and the Bees: Having “the Conversation” with Your Parent by Dr. Michael Gordon
  • Roz and Max by Dr. Michael Gordon
  • Now It’s My Turn: When Parenting Your Parents Reaches the Next Cycle by Dr. Michael Gordon
  • Appendix
  • Vulnerability Index: How Are Your Parents Right Now?


A compendium of family scenarios for those dealing with the guilt, worry, and difficult decisions that come with eldercare.

  • Is it time for your aging father to stop driving?
  • How can you balance your career opportunities with your mother’s care needs?
  • Can your parents cope on their own?
  • Is it time for long-term care? Given their reluctance, is that even an option?

Millions of people are dealing with aging parents and are stunned with the complexities and demands of their care. As demographics change and societies adapt, that caring — that parenting — isn’t getting any simpler.

In the fourth edition of this eldercare classic, advocate Bart J. Mindszenthy and geriatrician Dr. Michael Gordon present twenty-seven case studies of families working through the eldercare puzzle. With new scenarios covering legalized marijuana and medically assisted dying, this revised and updated edition of Parenting Your Parents makes the case for good planning, family unity, and being aware of your loved ones’ health.

With the help of Gordon and Mindszenthy’s expert advice, care providers are able to shed guilt and worry and become confident that they have done all they could to make their parents’ latter years as fulfilling and comfortable as possible.


An invaluable resource for seniors and their children and for those in the medical and nursing fields. The challenges for seniors and their
families will be a dominant force in health care and society for the next twenty-five years. Michael Gordon is a very multi-experienced guide, with perspectives from being a geriatrician as well as being a son and dealing with his own health issues, so he knows all the important issues and gives sage advice about how to approach these. A must read.

- William B. Dalziel, professor of geriatric medicine, University of Ottawa

Written in a very warm and empathetic manner with some enlightening personal stories of each of the writers and new narratives addressing contemporary issues such as assisted suicide, new technologies, and frayed family dynamics, readers can find solace and advice throughout this book on how to address the challenges and develop greater satisfaction in helping their aging loved ones to live as full and satisfying lives as possible.

- Samir K. Sinha, director of health policy research, National Institute on Ageing

Gordon and Mindszenthy have succeeded in writing a book that helps families navigate challenges ranging from legal matters to family conflicts, decisions around care, and access to counselling, in a spirit of helping and encouraging each of us to carry out our intergenerational duties as
best we can with due diligence and mutual respect at every stage.

- Sandra E. Black, professor of medicine, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Covers many of the common challenges of dealing with aging family members. The case studies are detailed and read like a story. The geriatrician’s point of view thoroughly addresses the perspectives of all players in detail, and it is like getting a free consultation.

- Ivan Ip, vice president, Yee Hong Centre for Geriatric Care

Parenting Your Parents sheds light on a common oversight in the lives of many adult children: the gradual aging of their parents while they’re engrossed in their own growth. Dr. Michael Gordon, a well-known geriatrician, ethicist, and end-of-life expert, along with his co-author, Bart
Mindszenthy, adeptly tackle this complex and challenging subject. Their combined mastery of storytelling, based on their rich experiences, results in an exceptionally well-written book that is both captivating and compassionate, leaving readers deep in thought. This book, replete with diverse
scenarios and detailed stories, is essential reading for anyone in the role of caring for elderly family members.

- Regina Starr, managing editor, Health Plexus

A candid guide to commonly encountered health challenges with age that provides practical advice grounded in compassion, occasionally humour, and always respect. The content is informed by the authors’ deep experience in the subjects of aging and healthcare.

- Kelly J. Murphy, co-author of Living with Mild Cognitive Impairment

In this revised fourth edition of Parenting Your Parents, geriatrician Dr. Michael Gordon and his co-author Bart Mindszenthy have crafted a wide-ranging guide to assist children of aging parents. For those of us who have experienced the many challenges either personally or through our various professions, there is no question of the need for such a book. Of particular interest to me, in my role as an investment advisor, was the narrative on scams that especially target and prey on elders. I can recommend this book for its insights, entertaining stories, and wise advice to those who face the challenge of providing the love that their parents deserve in a cogent and supportive fashion.

- Steven Ferguson, senior financial advisor, Assante Capital Management

The personal narratives of both authors add to the meaningful and genuine personal and professional experiences of each.

- Howard Bergman, MD

Drawing on a rich tapestry of diverse case studies and their own experiences, Mindszenthy and Gordon adeptly navigate readers through the intricate journey of tending to aging parents. Their abundant knowledge, coupled with remarkable emotional intelligence, shines through as they employ an accessible writing style to present a plethora of rational, actionable, and empathetic approaches to tackling the challenges of caregiving. A vital resource for those engaged in eldercare and family support, this book is an indispensable companion for anyone bearing witness to their parents' transition into old age. It provides essential guidance for ensuring that later life is marked by security, comfort, and significance.

- Galit Nimrod, PhD , author of The Aging of Aquarius

Parenting Your Parents is a compassionate, brave, and wise look at dementia, disability, loss, and love. The book is written as a series of easily digestible vignettes that explore issues such as how to balance respect for a parent’s independence while providing timely supports that can help to avert almost certain harm. Although the book contains case studies drawn from nearly four decades of gerontological practice, it has an intimacy that is derived from the authors’ willingness to share their own struggles with their respective parents’ decline. An additional section, not contained in earlier editions, contains the authors’ vulnerable reflections on their own illnesses and increasing awareness of their own mortality. Those of us in mid-life, who are experiencing or will soon experience the whirlwind of life that is the lot of the so-called sandwich generation, will appreciate the practical advice and companionship provided by this unassuming but helpful little book.

- Ann Munro Heesters, senior director, Department of Clinical and Organizational Ethics, UHN