When faced with choosing how to care for an aging parent, your family might decide to move them into your home is the best option. It may seem natural to want to welcome your loved one with open arms, paying little attention to possible consequences. However, experts suggest that moving elderly parents into your home should be approached with careful thought and planning to help ensure success.
A good first step is to sit down with adult siblings and other key family members to discuss important details of the move. Addressing topics in advance, such as finances and how each family member will help provide support can help prevent stress and resentment later on. Here are some tips for making the transition as smooth as possible:
1. Consider Finances
Who will help contribute financially? How much (if anything) will your parent be expected to contribute? While paying for only one residence can save money, the increase in other living expenses such as groceries and utility bills can add up quickly. It can get even more costly if you need to do home renovations or hire a home care aide.
Decide who will pay for what ahead of time and have the financial arrangement drawn up by an attorney. Having the agreement in writing can prevent feelings of ambiguity and resentment among family members. Having a record of who pays for what can also help down the road should your loved one need to access Medicaid benefits.
2. Evaluate the level and amount of care needed
When an elderly parent first moves in they are often able to perform most activities independently, and might even be able to pitch in around the house by helping out with chores or looking after young children. However, if your parent needs assistance with daily activities or close supervision at all times, who will be providing care?
Figure out a schedule that accommodates your loved ones needs. If you are going to be the primary caregiver, decide if that means you will need to step away from your outside job. If your loved one needs less assistance, you might plan for family members to help fill in the gaps. Or, you might want to hire an in-home care aide to assist your loved one while you are at work. Pay attention to your loved ones abilities as they may change over time making it necessary to reevaluate the level of care you are able to provide.
3. Make your home safe and comfortable
When preparing for an aging parent to move in make sure you have enough space and privacy to comfortably accommodate them. This may mean that your house needs to be partially renovated, or that children might need to share a room to free up space.
Safety is always a priority when it comes to an older adult’s living environment. You may need to modify certain areas of your home to prevent falls and injury. Securing or removing area rugs, making sure there is adequate lighting, and installing grab bars in the bathroom are a few things you can do to start. Here is a home safety checklist with more tips for how to make your space safe for your loved one.
4. Be prepared for change
Roles changes within the family can be a big adjustment with the arrival of your loved one. A parent who took care of you growing up might now be dependent on you to care for them. You might have less time and energy for your spouse, your children, and yourself. Your children might now need to take on more responsibility with household chores or helping provide care for their grandparent.
Additionally, lifestyle differences might require a great deal of compromise among family members. You might have to get used to having your loved one up moving around the house at odd hours. Teenagers might have to turn the volume down on their stereo or use headphones. Your loved one might request that you prepare different meals then what your family is used to. Being patient and flexible while everyone adjusts can help ease the tension associated with change.
5. Get help when needed
Avoid caregiver burnout by taking advantage of resources in the community that provides respite such as adult day care or in-home care services. The assistance of an in-home caregiver can allow you more time to spend with other family members and friends, a more experienced level of care for your parents, and some peace of mind for you to relax.
While it may be a significant adjustment, there are many benefits to living under one roof. Other than saving money and keeping your loved one safe, living with an aging parent can allow meaningful bonds to form between generations. Sorting out details of the move in advance and making sure family members are all on the same page can help ensure a successful transition.