As children, we are raised with the intent that we will one day venture off on our own. We will start careers and families, and we will, inevitably, witness the aging of our parents.
As parents age, many adult children begin to think about, not only their futures, but the futures of their parents as well. One of the biggest decisions that many adults face is whether or not to move an aging parent into their homes.
Taking care of an elderly parent in your home can be a rewarding experience.
Having the ability to support, care for, and nurture those who, at one point in time, supported, cared for, and nurtured you is a blessing – with that being said, this does not mean that multigenerational living is not without a learning curve.
There are certain questions and considerations that many adult children have when making this very important decision. See below for some of the best questions you should explore when considering taking care of your elderly parent in your home.
What Kind of Care Is Needed?
One of the first questions that you should answer regarding taking care of an elderly parent in your home, is what kind of care does he or she require. What is his physical condition? What is her mental state? Does he or she have a chronic illness?
Many adult children do not move their parents into their homes while their parents are still healthy and mobile; this is usually due to the fact that their elderly parents prefer the independent nature that comes with living separately.
Once a parent has a health scare or can no longer safely live on his or her own, an adult child needs to consider the level of care required of him or her.
Know the illness or disability incredibly well. Seek out educational materials, lectures, support groups, and meetings with your parent’s doctor to fully understand the care levels needed to ensure the health of your elderly parent.
If you cannot provide the care required, hiring an in-home care service can provide you with the support needed to care for your mother or father.
How Will This Affect My Family?
An elderly parent moving into a child’s home equates to an additional person in your household.
It is important to consider how the move will affect your family’s current routine and living arrangements. The best way to ensure that the transition goes as smoothly as possible is by opening up a dialogue.
If you are married and/or have children, speak with your spouse about this new arrangement; speak with your children about what this will mean.
Aside from speaking to your spouse and/or children, it is very important to make sure that communication with the parent moving into your home remains open.
The parent-child relationship is a unique and complex one. When the roles are reversed, and a parent is no longer taking care of his or her child, this can bring up a lot of conflicting emotions.
Speaking openly about finances, fears, and any unresolved issues prior to the move can help make you and your parent feel more comfortable with this new living arrangement.
Is My Home Accessible?
Taking care of an elderly parent in your home means that you may have to consider your home’s overall makeup.
- If your home has stairs, is there a bedroom on the first floor that your elderly parent can move into?
- If your mother or father requires a wheelchair, are your doorways and bathrooms wide enough to support a wheelchair?
- Will privacy be compromised for anyone living in your home when your parent moves in?
- Do you have the financial capacity to follow through with any renovations needed to accommodate certain disabilities?
Before your parent can move into your home, it is important to make sure that he or she can easily move around your home without fear of injury.
Will My Parent Adhere to My Household Rules?
This question is why open communication prior to the move (and after) is very important.
For example, if your parent is a smoker and you do not allow smoking in your home, will he or she be willing to stop? Will your boundaries be respected? Will your pet be treated as requested?
Once your parent moves into your home, you are the primary decision-maker. While you are still his or her child, you are now also his or her caregiver. This is a stark difference from the earlier years of your life where your parent was the main decision-maker and caregiver.
Remember that transitioning to a multigenerational household can take time.
While some elderly parents adjust easily, others find that the process is more difficult to handle. If you find yourself in the latter camp, reaching out to in-home care specialists or a therapist can be of great help.
Will My Parent Contribute Financially?
No one enjoys talking about money with their parents, but this is a major topic of conversation that you should have.
Often, an elderly parent will want to help with household expenses. If he or she is eligible for Medicaid, you may also be able to receive pay for the care that you are providing.
Further, if you have siblings, it is important to include them in financial discussions.
Because you are taking your parent in and he or she may be providing you with money to offset the cost of an additional person living in your home, this can breed tension among siblings who may feel like their inheritance is being tapped into.
On the other side of the spectrum, your siblings may be willing to help you in the costs of caring for your elderly parent.
Will I Have Time for Myself?
An often-wondered question, but rarely asked, is whether or not you will be able to balance your personal life with your caregiving life.
In order to be a great caregiver to your loved one, taking care of yourself is crucial.
Joining a support group, making sure that your parent has a social network, hiring in-home help, and setting aside certain days that are solely for you, your spouse, and/or your children are all ways that you can avoid any kind of burnout associated with caregiving.
Taking care of an elderly parent in your home requires research, introspection, communication, and patience.
It is, by no means, an easy decision to make. With that being said, by preparing accordingly using the content listed above as a guide, you can care for your mother or father in a supportive, maintainable, and empathetic way.
If you or your family member is considering in-home care as part of a plan to age in place, contact Family Matters In-Home Care today for a free consultation. Our team is dedicated to supporting your family and helping older adults enjoy life in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible.
Some of the services offered by Family Matter In-Home Care include: Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care, Bed & Wheelchair Transfer Assistance, Companionship, Housekeeping & Meal Preparation, Personal Care, Recovery Care, and Transportation.