01/16/2014 11:08 am ET Updated Jan 25, 2014

Ten Ways Caring For A Parent Is Like Raising A Toddler

Camille Tokerud Photography Inc. via Getty Images

Let me begin by saying that I feel your pain. Just as you start to accustom yourself to the benefits of being an empty nester—planning that long-awaited vacation, picking up a hobby like figure drawing, dirt-bike racing, or binge watching the Sopranos—you get the phone call. Mom has fallen. Or Dad is disoriented. Or maybe the labs didn’t come back the way everyone had hoped. Disaster can strike gradually or abruptly, and unless you are an expert in denial or have a sibling who has a passion for playing Florence Nightingale, you realize that you have been transferred into another stage of life: welcome to the Caregiver Years.

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