Should you invite your senior parents to move in with you? Would your elderly loved one benefit from living in your home — or would they be better off aging in place?
All around the country, people ask these important questions every day, and there are no easy answers. Many supportive family members bring a senior loved one into their home after a serious event, such as a fall or hospitalization. In other cases, family caregivers invite their parents to move in when they notice “yellow flags” in the seniors’ household, from unpaid bills to mounting piles of clutter.
In other cases, many families see living together as a powerful way to bring generations together, and make life easier. Living under one roof can make it easier to keep an eye on an aging loved one; this arrangement may even allow for the senior members of the household to help out with day-to-day activities, like taking care of their grandkids. Research shows that multi-generational households are on the rise, and have only been growing more and more commonplace in recent years.
Still, sharing a home with your aging relatives is a big step. This living arrangement can offer some advantages, but it’s also important to consider the potential downsides. As you weigh the important decision of whether to live under one roof with your aging parents, take plenty of time to think about how this decision may impact you, your senior loved ones, your spouse, and your own kids — financially, emotionally, and personally.
Considering whether you should invite your parents to move in? This is an enormous decision, with many crucial factors to address before you take action. Here are some of the most important questions to ask:
“What Level of Care Will My Parents Need?”
It’s important to think about the amount of care and attention your parents will need to remain safe and healthy — and how much of this support you can provide on your own. Are your loved ones experiencing a loss of memory or other cognitive changes? Do they have trouble walking or getting around? Will they require a lot of hands-on help with bathing, grooming, and dressing? Be realistic in planning ahead for your parents’ needs, considering their current health challenges, and issues that may come up in the future. Weighing the need for care can be an important first step in deciding whether or not your parents should move in, and if you may need to bring on supplemental help, such as a respite care provider, who can give you a break when you need it most.
“How Much Time and Energy Can I Commit to Caregiving?”
Caregiving is a profound and generous act of love, but it can also be time-consuming, as well as physically and mentally draining. How much time and energy can you realistically dedicate to caregiving, given your work schedule, travel plans, and social life? Can you reasonably expect other members of the household, such as your spouse or your children, to chip in? What are your personal boundaries? Are you comfortable with experiencing a “role reversal” with your aging loved ones, and helping out with personal tasks like getting dressed or using the bathroom?
“Is My Home Ready for Seniors to Move In?”
Before bringing your senior parents into your household, be mindful of what updates or changes you may need to make to keep everyone safe and comfortable. How senior-friendly is your home? Do you only need to make a few tweaks, or will significant renovations be needed? Will you need to add wheelchair ramps, handrails, or extra lighting? Is there a bedroom on the ground level, in case your parents can’t use the stairs? Will your loved one be able to access a private bathroom, with grab bars and other safety features? Is the hallway wide enough for a wheelchair or walker? Be mindful of privacy, as well. Will everyone be able to have their own space? Is the home large enough for everyone to come and go comfortably, without disturbing the others?
“What Will It Take for My Parents to Move?”
Moving can be difficult, even under the best of circumstances. This adjustment can be even tougher for seniors, due to any number of logistical and lifestyle challenges. Does your senior loved one have a pet that will have to move with them? How much of their furniture from their old house can they bring? Will moving separate them from their current support network, such as neighbors, a senior center, or family members? Will you need to sell or rent your loved one’s home? Who will help with the move?
“What Will the Financial Impact Be?”
For many family caregivers, the importance of lending a helping hand far outweighs the costs of providing care. Still, it’s important to be realistic, and think about the financial costs associated with moving in with your senior loved one. According to data cited by MarketWatch, “caregivers who live with a parent spend an average of $5,000 of their own money a year on their loved one’s food, clothing and other basics.” This number goes up significantly for seniors with health complications, such as dementia.
Think ahead about the many costs associated with this big move. Does your loved one have a long-term care insurance policy that can help with the costs of home care? Do they have savings or income that can be put to household expenses? Do you have the budget to make renovations to make your home more livable? Will you or a loved one need to stop working or adjust your hours to provide care?
“Will My Family and I Be Able to Adjust?”
Adjusting to new living arrangements can be tricky, especially when caregiving is involved. As you consider whether or not to live with your senior loved one, think about your relationships and your family. As the AARP puts it, it’s crucial to address “expectations, fears… and lingering issues.”
Are there long-standing disagreements or arguments between you and your parents that may come up if you live together? Does your parent get along with your spouse? How much of an adjustment will this be for your kids? Does everyone seem excited and optimistic, or hesitant and nervous? Before taking this big step, it’s important to make sure everyone is on the same page.
“Are There Alternative Situations That Might Be Better for Us?”
Bringing a senior in to live with you is a big undertaking, and while it may be the right arrangement for some families, it is definitely not a “one-size-fits-all” decision. There may be many solutions that can help, based on your needs and your loved one’s wishes. If your loved one only needs some extra company and social support, for example, they may benefit most from companion care provided in the comfort and safety of their own home. It may also be less expensive to make modifications to your loved one’s home so that they can age in place over time — especially if they already have a strong caregiving network in place.
“Will Everyone Be Able to Get Along? How Will This Change Our Relationships?”
Living together can bring up lots of unexpected sources of stress and tension. As caregiving expert Carol Bradley Bursack puts it: “You may have the best intentions, but forcing a relationship for any reason is guaranteed to backfire.”
“Even if your family dynamic has been largely positive in the past, try to anticipate potential changes that could result from this decision. How could moving Dad in affect your marriage? Will your elder be able to tolerate living with active children? Should the kids expect that Grandpa is in charge when Mom and Dad aren’t home, or should they be taught that they will be assuming the role of caregiver?”
“Are We Able to Have Important Discussions Together?”
Will you and your senior loved one be able to talk openly and honestly about the challenges, benefits, opportunities, and practical considerations of living together? There will be many moments when everyone will need to come together for important discussions, often about sensitive or delicate topics. Think about how you’ll communicate with your senior loved one, and make time for a family meeting with your spouse, kids, and any other family members who may be impacted (such as your long-distance siblings). Be patient, compassionate, and empathetic, and recognize that it may take some trial-and-error before you can get everyone on the same page.
“Am I Ready to Accept a New Role? How Will This Affect My Health?”
Finally, don’t forget to take your own wants, needs, and preferences into account. Being a full-time caregiver can often come with a lot of extra stress, and even some health challenges to keep in mind. It takes time and focus to be a caregiver. How important is it for you to have time to yourself? Will you still be able to prioritize your own health and peace of mind when you need to? Who can you turn to for help and support? Will you make time for exercise, eating right, and getting enough sleep? Are there local caregiver support groups you can join, or resources you can use to share some of the responsibilities of daily care?
Looking for Expert Help and Guidance? We Are Here for You
Thinking about the benefits — and challenges — of serving as a caregiver to your aging parent?
Considering whether or not your loved one is healthy and independent enough to age in place in their own home?
Looking for someone to help support and assist your aging parent, on a full- or part-time basis?
For all these important matters and more, Companions for Seniors is here and ready to help.
At Companions for Seniors, we believe that support and friendship can help empower the elderly to live life to the fullest, without having to uproot and move into expensive, institutional care. All of our companions are trained and insured, and can help work with your family to develop a personalized care plan specifically tailored for your loved one’s needs — and your own hopes and goals as a family caregiver.
We believe in helping seniors to maintain a higher quality of life physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. We’ll help the older adult in your life to lead an active and enriched lifestyle, by connecting them with their community and nurturing meaningful relationships. Our companions can provide a number of services designed to make life easier for seniors and their family members, including:
- Providing assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs)
- Offering housekeeping and laundry help
- Running errands and assisting with meal prep
- Offering transportation service to doctor’s appointments, family events, and more
- Providing medication and exercise reminders
- Offering emotional support and friendship
- Supplying reports to family caregivers
We believe in fostering an open dialogue and sharing ideas; always going the extra mile with our services; and providing flexible care at the right price for every household.
Curious about what it takes to get started? Looking for an extra set of hands as you and your loved one transition into living together? Ready to help empower your senior loved one to be more independent? We’d be happy to help. Whenever you’re ready to get the conversation going, give us a call at 866-910-9020, or get in touch online using our contact form, available here.