What to Consider Before Moving an Aging Parent into Your Homeadmin
When you’re 18 and moving out of your parents’ house for the first time, the last thing on your mind is the possibility that you’ll be living with your parents again. Even further from your mind is that next time you might be the one taking care of them.
As parents get older, many adult children find themselves faced with the fact that their aging parents can no longer live alone safely. Whether they were injured from a fall, have started to forget things like paying bills, or have limited mobility and dexterity and are struggling to get around the house, it is important to watch for the signs that your parent may need more full-time care.
Instead of putting them in an elder care facility, many children are instead choosing to take their parents into their own homes to provide care. In 2008, 4.05 million parents were living with their adult sons or daughters. In 2011, this number rose to 4.6 million.
If your parent can no longer live safely on their own, you may be considering inviting them to live with you. This is a huge decision that needs to be made carefully. Before you open up your home, here are a few things you should consider first.
One of the main reasons children choose to have their parents move in with them is for financial reasons. Elder care facilities can have high price tags. If your parent has no retirement savings, these fees can be intimidating and hard to manage.
It is important to keep in mind that having an aging parent move in with you is not free. You are supplying their rent, food, and care, and you may need to spend money on upgrades to your home to make it more accessible and safe.
While elder care fees can seem extremely high, there are a lot of services that come with that price. With meals, utilities, housekeeping, and even social activities included, elder care can be more affordable than it seems.
At the end of the day, you need to go with the option you and your parent can afford. Financial planning before your parents need care can help avoid a difficult decision later on and keep your options open when the time comes.
Level of Care
Before having a parent move in with you it is important to have a medical evaluation to assess their care needs first. When evaluating the level of care your parent needs, you have to be honest with yourself about what level of care you can provide on a daily basis.
If your parent is still mostly independent and just needs help with transportation and companionship, then living together can be practical and easy. However, if they have dementia, a chronic illness, or extremely limited mobility, then they might need more care than you can provide.
One thing elder care offers that most family caregivers are unable to is round-the-clock care. If you work it can be difficult to be there for a parent as much as you may want or need to. You don’t want to feel guilty leaving them alone or put them in any danger.
Impact on Your Family
Choosing to have a parent move in with you should never be a decision you make on your own. If you live with your spouse or have children in the home, this change will affect their lives as well.
If you have small children in the house, then having a parent move in can actually be a benefit. If your parent is healthy enough to watch the children on occasion, you can have a live-in babysitter. It can also help strengthen the bonds between your children and their grandparents.
It is important to make sure everyone in the family is willing to make the potential sacrifices that come along with this move. Will a child have to give up their bedroom? Will it affect the noise levels in the house? Will everyone be willing to help out with caregiving if necessary? These are all important questions to consider.
Safety of Your Home
Your home might be plenty safe for your family, but an aging parent with limited mobility might need some modifications to make it safe and comfortable for them. Having enough space for another person is important, but even more so is having that space be accessible to them.
Stairs can be dangerous for someone with limited mobility, so having their bedroom, bathroom, and anything else they might need on the first floor is important. If you have stairs leading into your home, you may need to install a ramp.
Even if your home is one story, you may need to add more modifications to make it safer, like safety grab bars in the bathroom and shower and extra lighting. If your parent is in a wheelchair, doors and hallways may need to be widened to make room, and floors will have to be cleared of any clutter.
Preparing your home for an aging relative can be a huge expense depending on the level of assistance they need, but is an important step to keeping them safe. Elder care facilities are already equipped to handle limited-mobility issues and should be considered as an option if your home is not equipped to accommodate your parent.
If your parent lives alone but you are helping take care of them, then you probably spend a lot of time commuting between their home and yours and managing the two households. One huge benefit of having a parent move in with you is having only one household to have to worry about.
Having a parent move in with you also offers a great deal of peace of mind. You no longer have to spend time worrying about whether or not they are taking good care of themselves or if they have slipped and fallen.
Keep in mind that while having your parent move in can take away a lot of the stress of worrying about them, it can also introduce new stressors. It takes a lot of time and energy to be a primary caregiver, and the time you save commuting will likely go into taking care of them more.
Your Mental Health
When you put all of your time and energy into caring for another person, your own sense of self can begin to slip away. In a study of adults in Connecticut providing unpaid care to a relative or friend, caregivers who lived with their family members were 2.5 times more likely to feel socially isolated than those who lived separately.
Social isolation is a sign of caregiver burnout. Caregiver burnout is a state of mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion that can occur when caregivers don’t receive the help they need or attempt to do more than they are able. When taking care of another person, it can be easy to forget to take of yourself.
If you find yourself experiencing the symptoms of caregiver burnout, it is important to seek help. Reach out to your friends and family for assistance, and consider seeing a mental health professional. There are also respite care services that can give you a break from caring for your relative.
If living with and caring for your relative is too much for you to handle, then you need to be honest with yourself. Many older adults thrive in elder care and enjoy being with their peers. Do not let your own health slide in an attempt to protect theirs.