When an aging parent loses their ability to live on their own, you may be considering moving he or she into your home to live. While you may feel that this is simply the right thing to do – after all, he or she likely cared for you when you couldn’t – there are a number of things you should consider first to ensure that it is the right decision, and done the right way. You may not have lived with your parent for many decades and you both will have your own lives and routines that do not involve one another in this stage of life. Your personalities, preferences, beliefs, and values have changed. Coming back to live together now will be very different than it was in the past. Before plunging into this decision head first, take some time to allow both you and your parent to consider the following:
- Where in the home is the ideal place for your parent to move into? Do you have a separate living space, or will he or she share all of the same living spaces?
- Will it be necessary to make renovations or physical accommodations to the home?
- What are the financial implications of bringing your parent into the home?
- How will your parent being in the home affect your daily routine and schedule?
- Will your parent participate in all or some of the family activities?
- Will you need to help your parent with their personal care, hygiene, etc?
- How will your parent moving in effect the other family relationships (spouse, children, etc.)?
- Do you and your parent fight/disagree often? Can you have open discussions about your feelings with one another?
- Does your parent smoke or drink, and if so, will you allow this in your home?
- Does your parent have any pets to bring along? How will they get along with your pet(s)?
- How will you establish boundaries within the household?
- Consider both parties desire for privacy and independence. How will that be maintained?
It is important to have an open discussion about the above considerations and be honest with one another about your concerns, expectations, and desires for how this will work. It might not be an easy conversation to have, but addressing these concerns up front will ensure things go much more smoothly once they are actually living in your home.
Entire Family Buy In
You should involve the other family members that live in your home as well as those who live elsewhere such as a spouse, children, aunts, uncles and siblings. It is just as important to be open and honest with them. A family meeting might include discussion around the aforementioned topics as well as some of these additional things to consider:
- What will their role be in caring for the aging parent?
- Will they be expected to contribute, financially or otherwise?
- How do they feel about this new arrangement? What are their fears, concerns, expectations?
- Children may need more explanation about their grandparent’s condition (medical and/or mental) to help them better understand why they are moving in and what their needs might be.
- Safety concerns need to be addressed and how you will address them.
- Give consideration to the logistics of the move and what type of help you will need from the family.
- Talk through your emotions and be supportive with one another.
- Make a plan for the first few weeks after the move. Who will do what?
- Discuss whether in home care will be necessary, and how it will be paid for.
In larger families or families where there are dynamics, unresolved issues, or simply multiple perspectives and personality types, it might be a good idea to bring in a third party to help you through this process. Consider the assistance of a Geriatric Care Manager to help you sort it all out and come up with a manageable plan. If your loved one is coming from another community, he or she can also be of assistance by helping to locate the local services that your loved one will need such as a pharmacy that carries specialized medications your loved one requires, or a worship service that he or she will feel comfortable with.
Support Services. You may find that you will need assistance with meeting your parent’s needs. From grocery shopping and meal prep to medications and doctor’s appointments, the added responsibilities are likely to be burdensome. If no one is home during the day to help care for your parent,you might need to consider in home care or adult day care. If you are providing full-time care in your home, you may easily become burned out, so arranging for respite care on occasion is a worthy idea.
Considering all of these things will help ensure a smooth transition and set this plan up for success from the beginning. If you live in Northern Virginia, Allegiance Aging Care Services will be happy to help. Contact us at 703-539-6029 for more information on how we can assist you with this process.
About the Author: Pam Reynolds, CMC is the President and co-owner of Allegiance Aging Care Services. Pam has spent almost fifteen years working in senior care including long term care facilities and home health care. Her higher education is in Social Work, and she has been credentialed as both a certified Geriatric Care Manager and Licensed Assisted Living Administrator. Read more about Pam and her team of Aging Care Professionals here.