As your parents get older, it may not be possible or advisable for them to live alone. You may be weighing whether it makes sense to consider your elderly parents moving in with you or to relocate them to an assisted living/personal care community. There are many reasons why the option of moving elderly parents into your home makes sense. However, there are many issues that you, your parent and your family will need to discuss and resolve. To help you get started, here are 10 questions to ask yourself and your parent.
1. What Kind of Care Do They Need?
If you’re moving your elderly parents into your home, it’s important to remember that they may need special care. Before they move in, you’ll need to assess their needs, including the following:
- Memory care: If your parent has Alzheimer’s disease or other cognitive issues, you’ll need to consider if they will be safe in your home, especially when they’re alone. If they tend to wander, will your neighborhood be safe for them? It’s important to know when to consider memory care for a loved one.
- Medication management: Like most seniors, your parent will be taking different medications. Can your parent be trusted to manage their own medication schedule, or will someone in the home need to take responsibility?
- Diet and cooking: Your parent may have nutritional needs like a low-sodium diet, or there may be specific foods they need to avoid. At the same time, kitchens are a hot spot of activity in a retiree’s day-to-day life. It’s where many seniors spend hours cooking and enjoying meals. However, if you’re concerned about your parent’s ability to stay safe in your kitchen or to make healthy food choices, you may need to set restrictions on when and what they can cook.
2. Who Will Provide Care?
If you’re caring for an aging parent at home, will you and your family be able to provide round-the-clock care, or do you need to hire a home aide or nurse? Decisions about who is providing care and when should be discussed and agreed to before your parent packs their bags.
3. Will You Have Time to Supervise?
Even if you’re home all day, you may be wondering how to cope with elderly parents moving in with you. Family caregivers deal with high levels of stress every day. Most are providing care for an aging parent, raising a family of their own and working outside the home at least part-time. All these pressures can add up and lead to burnout and resentment. If you feel that you need extra help, you may want to consider options like adult daycare or a Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) in your area. These are programs that give your elder a place to go for the day to socialize, exercise and get routine medical care. They get a chance to get out and spend time with their peers and experienced caregivers; you get a chance to relax.
4. Will You Need to Renovate?
Your home may be perfect for you and your family, but it may not be the safest place for your parent if they have mobility issues. For example, what if your parent has trouble with stairs and the bathroom is on the second floor? If home renovations are needed, you’ll need to plan ahead. You’ll also need to discuss who will be paying for them.
5. How Does This Affect Your Finances?
Another big issue when moving elderly parents into your home is determining how to pay for everything. If you or your partner need to stay home, how will this affect your family income? Is your parent willing and able to contribute to the household? If yes, how much can they afford, and will they need to sell their home or other assets to do it?
6. How Will You Maintain Privacy?
If they’ve been living alone, your parent may feel uncomfortable being surrounded by the hubbub of a busy house. Will your parent have their own bathroom, or do you run the risk of one of the kids opening the door while Grandma is in the shower? If Grandpa is a night owl, is there a concern that he’ll be watching TV while everyone else is asleep? These are all concerns that should be addressed and discussed with the whole family.
7. How Does Your Family Feel?
Your kids and your partner may love having Grandma or Grandpa over to visit, but things can change when a parent becomes a housemate instead of a visitor. Before deciding anything, you and your partner must take the time to talk things through. Family relationships are complicated. Does your partner get along with your parent? If there’s conflict between you and your parent, will your partner feel trapped in the middle? If you have kids, how will they feel? Will they resent the loss of attention or privacy? Can they help with care, and to what extent?
8. Are They Bringing Pets?
If your parent has a pet, you’ll need to talk about whether the pet can come to live in your home. This may be complicated if someone in your home is allergic, space is limited, or you own a pet that isn’t compatible with your parent’s pet.
9. What About Their Social Life?
You’ll want to consider the social options available when moving an elderly parent into your home. Your parent may currently have a circle of friends or a community program in their neighborhood. If they’re living with you, will they still be able to connect with their community? If your parent is dating, will you feel comfortable with them having overnight guests?
10. Should I Keep Their Stuff?
Your parents have probably collected a lot of things in their lives that carry enormous sentimental value. Unfortunately, much of it won’t fit into your home. Before your parent moves in with you, you’ll need to discuss how much they can bring with them and whether they want to store, sell or donate anything they can’t take.
Moving your elderly parent in with you can be a wonderful experience for your family. If you want it to be a positive experience for all, take the time to talk with your parent about your needs and theirs. This will help you avoid potential conflicts and build a foundation for their future and yours.