Should You Move Your Elderly Parents Into Your Home?

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1. What kind of care will your elderly parent need in your home?

The ability to keep family together is one of the many benefits of having a parent live with you. Perhaps you want to care for them as they cared for you when you were young, or maybe you feel obligated to keep them in a specific environment.

Regardless, their care needs will determine how you can help. For example, if your senior parent has a complex medical diagnosis, they may require more frequent, skilled assistance than you can realistically provide.

Before you decide to care for your elderly parent at home, reflect on the following points:

  • Consider their mental and physical health. Are they relatively healthy and independent? Do they require minimal care? If so, moving them into your home may provide more opportunities for bonding.
  • Be prepared for emergencies or sudden health issues. Typical caregiver duties include keeping track of medical appointments and managing medications. But will you be able to handle unexpected situations, such as responding to falls or assessing pain levels?
  • Talk with their doctor and other health professionals. Are you comfortable managing your parent’s chronic illnesses or physical limitations? Are you prepared to handle common dementia behaviors if they arise?

2. How much personal assistance and supervision can you provide?

Even if your loved one is mostly independent and only needs help with some activities of daily living (ADLs), understanding the level of help you can offer is crucial when deciding whether to move them in with you.

When you’re determining whether this transition is a good idea for you and your family, it’s important to consider the following factors:

  • Think about your needs and schedule. If your parent needs help using the bathroom during the night, are you willing or able to do so?
  • Be proactive and realistic. Does your parent have a progressive health condition? Will you be able to provide care now and in the future?
  • Know your personal limits. If your parent needs help with ADLs, such as bathing and dressing, are you comfortable performing these personal tasks? If not, would home care be an option to receive the care you and other family members can’t provide?

Be sure to also consider your lifestyle, and ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do you have someone at home who can help you? You may not always be available to assist your parent when they need help moving from a chair to a bed or using the bathroom.
  2. Do you have children? If you’re a member of the sandwich generation, consider how moving your aging parents into the home will affect your children. Are they old enough to help with daily chores or assist your parents with care if needed?
  3. Do you work? If so, are you able to set aside free time? Having flexibility throughout your day or evening can be helpful if an emergency occurs or if you need to assist with errands, medicine, or transportation.

“This kind of caregiving, particularly for someone with dementia, can be a full-time job,” says Carol Bradley Bursack, a senior care expert. “Depending on the elder’s needs, the family may not be able to leave the older adult alone, so understand that this arrangement can seriously hamper the family’s independence.”

3. How’s your relationship with your aging parents?

For some, caring for an aging parent is fulfilling. More than half of caregivers say being a caregiver gives them a sense of purpose and meaning.[02] Would caring for your elderly parents in your home be a positive way to give back some of the care, love, and nurturing they gave you?

Even if you feel obligated to care for them, it’s important to be realistic about your relationship and whether you’re able to live in harmony. Consider the history of your relationship to determine whether you can live together peacefully in the same home, especially since your roles will be reversed.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you get along well with your aging parent?
  • Can you move past conflicts easily?
  • Will living together strengthen or weaken your bond?
  • How well do you communicate with each other?

“Moving parents into your home is challenging even when the relationship has always been close,” Bursack adds. “If you decide to do this, consider hiring a geriatric care manager or social worker to help moderate tough situations.”

4. How will you prepare your home for your elderly parents?

Older adults with health problems typically can’t bathe or climb stairs easily without modifications. Consider whether you can afford home renovations both now and in the future. Some examples include installing ramps, electric chair lifts, or grab bars.

Is your home safe for your elderly parents? Reflect on your living space, and answer the following questions:

  • Do you have available space, or do you need to create space through a home renovation?
  • Will someone at home have to give up their space?
  • Is there an accessible bathroom located near the space for your elderly loved one?
  • Is your parent in a wheelchair? Can your house accommodate their mobility needs?
  • If home renovations are needed, is the cost worth it for both short- and long-term needs?
  • Will your parent and others at home be able to maintain a comfortable level of privacy?

5. Will your aging parent contribute to the expenses?

Moving a parent into your home can be very costly for several reasons. According to Genworth’s caregiving statistics, 66% of caregivers in the U.S. pay for care out of pocket, which takes away from their own expenses and create limitations on their personal incomes.[03] In fact, the average amount that family caregivers spend out of pocket is around $7,200 each year.

Also, 51% of caregivers report that their ability to do their jobs was negatively affected once they started providing care.[03] This means providing care for your loved one may reduce the amount of money you earn. For example, you may need to transition to a part-time position as opposed to full time.

However, the financial strain associated with being a caregiver may ease if your parent contributes to the expenses or if you get paid to be a caregiver. You may also be eligible for caregiver tax deductions.

Here are additional questions to consider about finances:

  • Can your parent help with monthly housing costs?
  • Can your parent contribute financially to the home renovations required for their move?
  • Can you combine resources to get a new home that would provide a better living arrangement for everyone?
  • Can your siblings or other relatives help pay for your parent’s cost of care?

6. How do your family members feel about the potential move-in?

While you may think moving a loved one in is the right call, not everyone may be on board. Before making the transition, it’s important to let everyone weigh in, especially if they will be affected by the move. Communicate with family members, and trust your gut when it comes to moving your loved one in. Facilitate family discussions, or ask relatives one-on-one.

However you have the conversation, try to find answers to these questions:

  • Do you and your children feel excited about the potential move?
  • Is your spouse supportive? Do they have a good relationship with your parent?
  • Do you have support from extended family members?
  • Who will help you plan for the move?
  • How does your aging parent feel about this transition?

“Not every older adult wants to move in with their adult children,” Bursack says. “Doing so challenges the family dynamic in a way that can be emotionally uncomfortable and make them feel less independent.” She adds that some seniors would rather hire professional help for daily assistance, or even move to an assisted living community.

Make sure everyone is on board with your decision and is prepared for potential sacrifices and responsibilities. Consider meals, noise levels in the house, and everyone’s preferences and lifestyles.

7. Will providing elder care bring you stress?

If you’re working full-time, you need to consider whether you can handle the additional stress of having a dependent older adult at home. Many caregivers lose or give up their jobs because they can’t juggle competing demands of work and taking care of a parent. They’re also prone to illness from exhaustion, caregiver burnout, and stress if they don’t take time for themselves.

Caregiver stress often leads to increased anxiety, depression, and other health-related issues. This can be especially true for women caregivers, because they’re more likely to take on more of the caregiving than their male family members. It’s important to replenish your body, mind, and spirit by having your own activities and personal time. Consider whether you can balance your needs with theirs.

Bursack mentions that the stress of providing elder care may also change the entire family dynamic. She encourages people to consider if their family situation is flexible enough to handle those changes. In her experience, the following are common sources of stress:

  • Children in the home may struggle with balancing their personal lives and the expectation to help.
  • Kitchen and cooking arrangements, such as who cooks and who cleans up, can become a source of conflict.
  • The need for someone to stay home 24/7 if the senior family member has a form of dementia is a significant change for many families.

“It’s usually best to avoid cohabitation if any of these are beyond what your family situation can handle without seriously endangering your parenting or your marriage,” Bursack says.

 

8. How will moving into your home affect your parent’s social life?

When your parent moves in with you, they may leave their own social network and friends. It can also be hard for older people to adjust to a new environment, especially if they’re set in their ways.

If you and your spouse work outside the home and your kids are in school, this translates into a lot of alone time for your aging parent. Senior depression and loneliness from isolation could become an issue. However, there are ways to provide social outlets for seniors.

“For socialization, plan ahead by investigating local senior centers and other activities that they might enjoy,” Bursack advises. “If they attend church where they are, make it a priority to get them settled in a new faith community. If they have a hobby, they might join a group to meet other people.”

Bursack also says it’s also important to plan for socialization if your loved one relies on others for transportation. “If the older adult no longer drives, consider how they will get to activities. You might also help set them up with technology that allows virtual communication with old friends.”

Reasons you might not want to move your parent into your home

Ultimately, you may decide that moving your parent into your home isn’t the best option. Consider the following signs and reasons why this could be the case:

  • Your parent’s care needs are too significant to take on.
  • Your schedule and personal limits keep you from providing the care they need.
  • You and your parent don’t communicate well or have issues setting boundaries.
  • Your home can’t accommodate your parent, and home renovations aren’t feasible.
  • You won’t receive financial help from your parent or other family members.
  • Not everyone in your home is supportive or on board.
  • The stress of caring for your parent may be too much for you and your family dynamic.
  • Your parent’s social life will be negatively affected.

Even if you and your family decide that living with your parent won’t work, there are other care options for your loved one.

Tips on coping with the new living arrangement

If you choose to dedicate and invest your time in caregiving, there are several ways to manage the adjustment:

  • Set boundaries with your parent and the rest of your household.
  • Find help from family, friends, or home care providers.
  • Take time for yourself to enjoy your favorite things.
  • Join an in-person or virtual support group for caregivers to connect with others, ask questions, and remind yourself that you’re not alone.

Alternatives to becoming an in-home caregiver

If moving your parent into your home isn’t the best option for your family, or if you get to a point when you can no longer care for an elderly parent, it may be time to explore senior living options.

  • Look into home care. If your loved one prefers to stay at home, home care may be a good fit. Trained personal care aides provide support on a schedule that works best for the senior’s needs, all within the comfort of their own home.
  • Explore assisted living communities. These communities provide a balance of independence and assistance with ADLs, such as mealtimes and personal hygiene. Some benefits of assisted living include increased security, support, and social activities.
  • Consider memory care. Seniors who need this level of care have Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia. If your loved one shows signs of memory challenges or has been diagnosed with dementia, a memory care community can provide a safe and therapeutic environment.

This article originally appeared on APlaceForMom and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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