Advice for Moving a Parent into Your Home
Moving your parent into your home will ensure he or she is well cared for and allow the family to save money when compared to a long-term care facility. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to spend more time with your loved one. However, it’s not a decision you can make one day and be ready for within 24 hours. Have conversations with your parents early and often so you can prepare your home, and your budget, for the day when a parent moves in with you.
Moving a parent into your home means you’ll share a lot of the common areas. However, you still want to make sure you have a place of your own, and that your parent has a place to call home, too. “Do you have the room to afford them the privacy they’re accustomed to and to maintain privacy for you, your spouse and family?” asks Jack J. Hetherington, a certified elder-law attorney. “If there aren’t enough bedrooms or bathrooms and only one kitchen, then those living arrangements can quickly prove inadequate.”
You don’t have to add a new wing to your house to ensure everyone has the privacy they need. Set aside a space in the home that is exclusively for your parent. Decorate it with furniture and decor from his or her home. If your parent has a pet, make room for it in your home. “Giving up a pet could be very difficult, and having a beloved animal will help lessen the loneliness she may feel while getting used to her new environment,” writes Caring.com Senior Contributing Editor Mard Naman.
It’s a common strategy to baby proof a house before baby is born; you also need to “elder-proof” your house before your parent moves in. This will help ensure your parent is safe and secure as he or she adjusts to life in a new home.
- Ground floor – Try to have your parent live on the same level as the kitchen so he or she can navigate the home without using the stairs. If your home has stairs, consider adding a stair lift.
- Bathroom – Add grab bars in the bathroom and consider installing a walk-in shower.
- Stabilizing décor – Add anti-slip mats underneath your rugs, put bumpers on sharp furniture corners, and get rid of unsteady chairs.
- Clear the floors – Add bins for toys so the floor is clear of tripping hazards.
- Lighting – Make sure rooms, hallways, and walkways are well lit.
- Wheelchair Modifications – If your parent uses a wheelchair, make sure doors and hallways are wide enough for a wheelchair to pass (between 32 to 36 inches) and incorporate ramps where needed.
- Safety Sensors – Sensors on windows and doors will alert you if your parent leaves the home.
You can increase communication while still respecting privacy by using baby monitors or even walkie-talkies. A baby monitor will let you hear your parent call out for help; a walkie-talkie allows for two-way conversations without leaving the room. Both have advantages and disadvantages, so discuss it with your parent to decide what will work best.
Consider the Cost
Making the necessary renovations to your home can be costly, but you still might save in the long run when compared to a care facility. “According to Remodeling magazine’s 2011-2012 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report, the national average cost for a midrange master suite addition is $106,196,” reports Lynnette Khalfani-Cox of the AARP.
Tax deductions can help with the financial obligations of taking care of a parent. “When considering the financial details of this new arrangement, keep in mind that the children may be able to claim the parents as a dependent and get a tax deduction if they provide more than half of the parents’ support during the year,” writes Elder Law Answers.
Unexpected costs you might want to consider include storage and a professional aide. When you move a parent into your home, there’s not likely enough space for the belongings that once filled an entire home. A climate controlled storage unit will help keep your belongings and your parent’s precious memories safe and secure without taking up valuable space in your home. In addition, anticipate the cost of a health care aide if you’ll need assistance providing day-to-day care (bathing, feeding, dressing, etc). “Since the average cost of a home health care aide is about $21 an hour, experts at the MetLife Mature Market Institute put the average cost of a parent’s in-home care with a home health aide at about $21,840 a year,” writes Khalfani-Cox.
When it comes to taking care of an aging parent, early communication is key. You’ll have plenty of time to prepare your home, move items to your self-storage unit, and make financial plans if you know what to expect. You’ll also know you’re carrying out your parents’ wishes if you talk to them ahead of time and make a plan you can both agree on.