When an elderly parent is facing a decline in health, or struggling to live independently, adult children often feel the loving, protective impulse to want to bring Mom or Dad home to live with them.
And while there can be many positives to this arrangement, it’s not the ideal solution for every family. Some caregivers find the expense, stress, and fatigue to be far greater than they ever expected.
Should Your Aging Parent Move In With You?
Before you make the life-changing decision to move Mom or Dad in, we suggest asking yourself seven key questions that can help you decide if it’s going to work well for you—and for your loved one.
1. What kind of care is needed?
Talk to your parent’s doctor about the type and level of care your loved one will need. (And recognize that whatever your senior’s current state of physical and mental health, the level of assistance is almost certain to increase over time.) Will you be able to manage that change, especially if it escalates to ‘round-the-clock care?
Be honest about your limits. Are you comfortable helping with bathing, dressing or toileting? Are you willing to change an adult diaper? Will your parent’s sense of modesty or dignity be a barrier? Don’t forget to consider your own physical and mental health—it’s essential that you be able to take care of yourself in addition to caring for your loved one.
2. Do you have a good relationship?
Think about your history, and what it suggests about your ability to live together happily—at least most of the time. Is your relationship generally good, or has it always been on the stormy side? Some conflict and irritation are normal for any relationship. If you have a history of clashing, sharing close quarters (especially if you’re doing it out of a sense of guilt or obligation) may not be a good idea.
No matter how well you get along, caring for your parent’s needs will inevitably bring an extra level of stress. So be prepared and be patient. Your parent will likely still have a desire to be independent; it may be difficult for him or her to switch roles—relinquishing the position of “authority” while their child becomes the primary caregiver and decision-maker.
3. Is your home senior-friendly?
While your home may be perfectly functional for you, look at it from a senior’s point of view. Do you need to add accommodations like a raised toilet seat, grab bars, or ramps? Should kitchen or bathroom counters be lowered? Are hallways well lighted and entryways wide enough for a walker or wheelchair? Remodeling can be costly, and you’ll want to make sure you can afford to make the necessary changes.
Think about the personal aspects, too. Whether your parent will be sharing a room with a child or moving into a den-made-bedroom, ask yourself if there will be enough space and privacy for everyone in the household. Can your parent tolerate the higher levels of noise and activity in a busy family home? Are there personal habits you dislike, such as smoking or drinking? If Mom or Dad has a pet, are you comfortable with it living in your home?
4. What’s the financial impact?
Having an extra member of the household will add to your expenses, so you may need a come up with a plan for how you’ll cover the difference. Your parent can pay rent, your parent can pay for the improvements to make your home senior-friendly, or you can ask siblings to contribute to the cost of caregiving. Some senior parents and their children combine resources and move to a totally different home that suits everyone’s needs—and provides a neutral, fresh start.
Consider the financial impact if your parent ends up needing a higher level of care. Can you afford to have a professional caregiver come in to help out? If not, will you be able to get by cutting back to part-time work? Should the demands of caregiving require you to give up your job altogether, will you still be able to cover your bills?
5. Do you have enough time (and energy)?
Being a caregiver is hard work, especially if you’re working full time or still have young children at home. Will you be able to manage the additional stress (and demands to your busy schedule) of making appointments, offering transportation, providing entertainment, and making sure your loved one is attended to when you’re not at home?
How will the responsibilities of caring for your parent impact the amount of time you have to spend with your partner or children? Will you have enough bandwidth to care for yourself physically and emotionally? Not taking care of your own needs puts you at greater risk for illness, exhaustion, and depression. It’s important to honestly assess whether you can take on the extra burdens of caregiving, especially if there’s no one else available to help you on a regular basis.
6. How does the rest of your family feel?
Before moving your parent in, make sure everyone else in the family is on board with the decision. Consider the ways in which having Mom or Dad living with you will impact your family’s privacy and your intimacy as a couple. You don’t want a child upset about having to give up his or her room or have a partner resentful about having less of your time and attention.
Are your children looking forward to having Grandma or Grandpa under the same roof? Does your partner like and respect your parent—and is the feeling mutual? Be prepared for the dynamic of the household to change, and understand that it may take everyone time to adjust. Open, honest, and loving communication between everyone in the family can make all the difference.
7. Will your parent have a social life?
A parent moving from a different town or state is likely to be leaving most of his or her social network behind. It may be hard to adjust to a new environment and make new friends, particularly if he or she doesn’t drive.
If you and your spouse work full time, or your children are in school, your parent may be spending a lot of time alone and isolated. This can lead to depression—or make your loved one overly dependent on you for “entertainment”. Before your parent moves in, find out if there’s a senior center or adult daycare facility nearby. Make sure there’s transportation to get there and back, whether it’s the bus, a cab, or a ride service.
Hearthstone is here to help.
After answering these questions, you may decide that a senior living community is a better choice for your parent. If so, we hope you’ll consider Hearthstone. Locally based and family operated, we have a genuine heart for serving seniors and their families.
Our two Beaverton communities are designed to help seniors stay happy, healthy, socially active and maintain a high quality of life. We encourage family members to be a “part of the community” too, by making frequent visits, joining us for meals, and taking part in activities.
Come see all that Hearthstone has to offer! We invite you to contact us and set up a personal tour today.