Your Home or Theirs? Deciding Where a Senior Parent Will Live
No matter how strong, healthy, or independent your parent might be, you're eventually going to come to a crossroads because he or she is going to need more support. If you start noticing warning signs like confusion, unexplained changes in weight and personal appearance, or unusual clutter and messiness in their home, it's time to face up to the situation.
Should you move your senior parent into your home or let her age in place with extra help? The answer depends on a variety of factors. What's right for one family won't necessarily be right for another. We've rounded up important steps to take and questions to ask before making the decision.
What Level of Care Does (or Will) Your Parent Need?
Is your parent struggling with a chronic illness? What are the physical and mental needs you're both facing? Before you decide to move your parent into your home you should get a sense of what the illness is and what to expect as it progresses. Will you be able to cope with that on a day-to-day basis? Even if your parent is just experiencing the changes that typically come with aging, considering the challenges you might face in the future is important before you decide to move him or her in.
Open the Conversation
If you're noticing warning signs it isn't safe for your parent to remain in his or her place without any additional help, it's time to call a family meeting. Siblings, spouses, children, aunts, uncles – whoever's involved in your parent's life should be included in the conversation. Most importantly, you want to approach your parent with a calm, patient, and loving tone to honestly discuss your concerns, figure out how he or she feels about things, and get feedback about the living arrangements he or she would prefer.
Assess the Amount of Assistance You Can Provide
Bringing an aging parent into your home can be incredibly rewarding, giving you precious time together and enabling you to return some of the love and care your parent always provided you. But it's important to be realistic about the level of assistance and supervision you'll be able to provide. If you work outside of the home or you're uncomfortable helping her with bathing or going to the bathroom, you may need to enlist some outside help by hiring an in-home aide.
Your schedule, and that of your spouse and kids if you have them, should also be carefully considered. If you're going to lose sleep or you're caring for young children, taking on the responsibility of caring for someone who needs a lot of help might be too much for you.
How Would Moving in Affect the Family Dynamic
There's a lot to consider with bringing your senior parent into your household. For example, how will having your parent living with you change your family routine and privacy? What's the space like in your home? Do you need to add a bathroom or bedroom to make it work? How's your relationship with your parent? Conflict is inevitable in family relationships, but if you've always butted heads or had a strained relationship you can't expect it to change now.
Even if you think you're doing the right thing, you'll both end up unhappy if you can't live together in relative harmony. Additionally, if your parent has an illness like dementia, his or her personality may change down the road and present new challenges.
Hiring professional caregivers to help your parent age in place can be hard on the budget. Bringing your parent into your home can also be financially draining. But it can have benefits for both of you. For example, instead of your parent's monthly income going toward maintaining his or her home, a portion could go toward balancing the costs of living with you.
Ultimately, there's no right or wrong answer to where your senior parent should live. Keeping her in her home impacts your homelife less, but it will require you to step up to provide more caregiving and possibly arrange for in-home care. On the flip side, moving your parent in with you comes with its own challenges. Talk to your parent and your entire family to come up with a solution everyone can feel good about.