Home Relationship 8 Signs It’s Time to Consider Walking Away from Elderly Parent

8 Signs It’s Time to Consider Walking Away from Elderly Parent

by Maria L. Searle
Walking Away from Elderly Parent

Struggling to distance yourself from your elderly parent?

This decision can be highly confusing and emotionally charged, especially if you’ve been living together for ages.

That said, in certain situations, walking away from an elderly parent can be an ideal choice for both of you.

In this post, I’ll break down eight reasons that make distancing yourself from your elderly parent a necessity. 

Is It Selfish to Live Away from an Aging Parent?

Many people wrestle with feelings of guilt and selfishness when considering living away from their aging parent. The reality is, it’s not selfish to live away from an aging parent.

You have your own life to live, with your own responsibilities and commitments. It’s not just about balancing your needs with those of your aging parent, but also about ensuring both parties’ well-being.

It’s not selfish to want to live your life fully, nor to recognize when living with your aging parent might be unhealthy or impractical. It’s all about finding a balance and ensuring everyone’s needs are met.

Why Do I Feel Guilty About Moving Away from An Elderly Parent?

Feeling guilty about moving away from an elderly parent is a common emotion that many people experience.

This can be due to cultural or societal expectations, personal values, or emotional attachment. You might feel as though you are abandoning your parent in their time of need.

However, it’s important to understand that distancing yourself physically does not mean abandoning your responsibility or love for them. There are many ways to ensure they are cared for and supported, even if you can’t be there in person.

The 8 Reasons to Consider Walking Away from an Elderly Parent

The 8 Reasons to Consider Walking Away from an Elderly Parent

Walking away from an elderly parent shouldn’t be your first option for addressing problems with them. Still, you may have no other choice in many cases.

Here are the eight situations when you should consider distancing yourself from your elderly parent:

1. If They’re Abusive

Sadly, some parents can be abusive to their children. Despite them being caretakers, parents can still emotionally or physically abuse their kids—even if unknowingly. 

Having an abusive parent, as such, can significantly impact your well-being and even threaten your safety. You might have no choice but to move away to protect yourself and your family. 

2. If They Exploit You Financially

If your elderly parent exploits you financially through fraud, theft, or coercion, this can cause significant financial issues for you. It can be an emotionally draining experience when you fail to stop this exploitation.

I’d recommend investigating the situation and determining the underlying cause behind the exploitation. If you can address the underlying cause, then do so.

If you can’t, you may have to distance yourself from your elderly parent to stop this exploitation.

3. If They’re Addicted to Alcohol or Drugs

17% of Americans over 60 engage in alcohol or drug abuse, according to the NIAAA.

We all know that people can behave in highly risky ways under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Your parent’s addiction can even pose a risk to you and your family. 

In my experience, consulting a professional for advice on how to help your parent overcome addiction should be your first option.

Unfortunately, despite your continuous efforts to convince them to quit, your elderly parent may insist on using drugs. Consider distancing yourself from them then.

4. If It’s Unsafe to Stay Around

Besides addiction, there are multiple reasons why your elderly parent might engage in dangerous behavior. One common reason is suffering from dementia.

I understand that walking away from your parent who behaves dangerously is challenging, but staying around can risk your life.

In this case, I recommend distancing yourself and hiring a professional healthcare provider to look after your parent. Alternatively, you may place them in a care facility.

These protective measures are necessary to ensure that the dangerous behavior won’t harm you or them.

5. If Your Relationship with Them Is Unhealthy 

Do you have ongoing conflicts and problems with your elderly parent? You’re not alone! Many adults experience unhealthy relationships with their parents.

While some can somehow cope with such relationships, others may constantly feel upset and emotionally drained when encountering these issues.

If you’re going through this experience, I recommend contacting a professional relationship coach to help you fix this unhealthy relationship.

However, distancing yourself from your elderly parent temporarily can also be an excellent option for both you and them.

Some time apart might do you both some good. It’ll allow both of you to relax, set up boundaries, and try to work through your conflicts.

6. If They Move to a New Area

Many parents prefer to relocate to more affordable areas after retirement. They also like moving to quiet places and avoiding crowded cities. 

If you’re committed to work and family in your current location, you don’t have to follow your parent to the new area.

Just ensure they’ll be in good condition in the new location and maintain continuous communication and support for them. You may consider visiting them frequently too.

7. When You Relocate for a New Job

If you receive an irresistible job offer that requires you to relocate, you should seriously consider taking this step. In some cases, you can bring your parents with you to the new location. 

In other situations, your parent’s medical condition or advanced age can make their relocation nearly impossible. Some parents may even refuse to leave their current home and relocate. 

That way, you need to assess the pros and cons of relocating independently. 

In addition, think of ways to take care of your parent from a distance. This can include hiring a care provider to look after them or any similar option.

Either way, you shouldn’t feel guilty if you move to another location to start a new job. After all, most parents want their children to live the best life possible. 

8. When You Need to Move Forward with Your Life 

Are you considering taking a serious step in a relationship like marriage or starting a family? 

If yes, you may need to distance yourself from your elderly parent.

This doesn’t mean that you’re going to neglect your parent entirely. You’ll simply start your own independent life.

Despite distancing yourself from them, you can still support and care for your parent and maintain regular communication.

How to Help Elderly Parents from a Distance?

How to Help Elderly Parents from a Distance

1. Arrange for In-Home Care

This ensures that your parent has professional help with tasks that may become difficult due to age, such as cleaning, cooking, or personal care.

2. Technology

Use technology to keep in touch and monitor their health. Video calls, online grocery delivery, health-monitoring apps, or telehealth services can be beneficial.

3. Local Support System

Build a local support system for your parent. This could include friends, relatives, or neighbors who can check-in on them regularly.

4. Financial Planning

Help manage their finances, either directly or by hiring a professional.

5. Regular Visits

Visit as often as possible to provide emotional support and assess their living situation.

Wrapping Up

Walking away from an elderly parent can be a difficult decision, but it may be necessary in certain situations.

Living with an abusive or addicted elderly parent is a compelling reason to consider distancing yourself. Your parent’s engagement in dangerous activities can also be a significant reason to walk away.

In addition, you may consider distancing yourself if your relationship with your parent is unhealthy. Moreover, you might simply need to move forward with your independent life.

In any case, you don’t have to feel guilty for making that decision as long as you provide your parent with the needed support.



1. How can I explain to my elderly parent that I need to move away?

Honesty is key. Let them know that the decision is not because you don’t love or care for them, but because of your personal needs or circumstances. Assure them that you will continue to provide support and stay connected despite the physical distance.

2. What should I do if my elderly parent reacts negatively to my decision?

Stay calm and listen to their concerns. They may feel afraid or abandoned. Reassure them that you’re taking steps to ensure they receive proper care and support even if you’re not living nearby. If they continue to struggle with the idea, consider seeking professional help.

3. Can I get professional help for my elderly parent even if I’m not around?

Absolutely! In-home care services, telehealth solutions, and elderly daycare centers are all options to consider. 

4. How can I monitor my parent’s health from a distance?

Technology can be a great help. Regular video calls can help you visually check on their wellbeing. In addition, health-monitoring devices and telehealth services can provide real-time updates about their health condition.

5. What if my parent is resistant to outside help?

This is a common issue. Introduce them slowly to the idea and involve them in the decision-making process. Start with small tasks, like hiring a cleaner, before moving on to personal care. Also, it may be beneficial to get a recommendation from a trusted healthcare professional.

6. How can I cope with the guilt of living away from my elderly parent?

It’s normal to feel guilty. But remember that your wellbeing is also important. Consider seeking counseling or joining a support group to help you manage these feelings. Focus on the positive aspects of your decision, such as having the ability to provide better care through professional services. 

7. What are some signs that my elderly parent needs more care than I can provide?

Signs might include frequent falls or injuries, sudden weight loss, unexplained bruising, neglected personal hygiene, missed medications, confusion or forgetfulness, unopened mail or unpaid bills, and changes in mood or personality.

8. How often should I visit my elderly parent after moving away?

This will depend on various factors like the distance, your personal commitments, and your parent’s health condition. Aim to visit as often as you can without compromising your own wellbeing. Regular calls and video chats can also help maintain connection. 

9. What do I do if my parent’s condition worsens?

This can be challenging. First, ensure their immediate safety and care needs are met. Then, reassess their care plan and make necessary adjustments. Consult with healthcare professionals for advice and guidance.

10. Can I still be a good child if I choose to live away from my elderly parent?

Absolutely. Being a good child is not determined by proximity. It’s about love, respect, and ensuring your parent’s wellbeing. Remember, you can provide support in many ways, even from a distance.

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