We’re not here to discuss the pros and cons of living with your parents. Instead, we’re assuming you’ve already decided, and now you need additional support, advice, and reassurance. So what happens after you decide to have an elderly parent move in with you?
Remember, moving in with parents is not a decision you can make one day and be ready for within 24 hours, especially if they require additional care. First and foremost, have conversations with your parents early and often to align everyone’s expectations. Next, figure out what needs to be done to your home to make it accommodating and safe for everyone.
At Life Storage, we know a lot about stressful life transitions. The rest of this article will help you prepare your home and sanity when you decide to have a parent move in with you.
How to Mentally Prepare for Caretaking
1. Revisit your decision when stressed.
When things get hard and stressful (and they will), remind yourself why you chose to have your parents live with you. Moving elderly parents into your home can be an ideal option for families who want to ensure their mom or dad has their needs met.
Reminding yourself of why you chose this option for you and your parents can help put things in perspective when emotions take over. If something happens over the course of the move that has your heart racing and your temper’s flared, take a few deep breaths. Once you can calm down, remind yourself of why you had your parents move in.
Here are some reasons that may resonate with you:
- Using your home allows the family to save money when compared to a long-term care facility.
- It’s a wonderful opportunity to spend more time with your loved one.
- Your parents are capable of helping with childcare.
- Caretaking for your parents gives you a sense of pride and peace since you know they are receiving the best possible care with you.
Sometimes plans change (and that’s okay), which leads to our second suggestion.
2. Be honest about how much caretaking your parents need.
Even if an adult care facility is out of the question, it’s still important to make an honest assessment of your parent’s care needs. If you cannot accurately access what your parents will need, contact a doctor, social worker, or another healthcare worker for help. Once you know what they need, you then need to be honest with yourself. Can you meet all of these needs without sacrificing your own wellbeing? Sometimes people answer that question too quickly without considering all factors.
Caretaking is a burden that can quickly burn out even the most loving and compassionate children. Also, remember that caretaking needs are fluid and subject to change. If you’re initially up to the challenge, have plans to accommodate current and potential needs.
Consider the following advice:
- Mentally prepare yourself for the prospect that your parents may eventually need a nursing home or assisted living facility if their needs supersede what you’re able to provide. Being prepared for this scenario will allow you to assess a situation’s reality even if seeing your parents deteriorate is emotionally straining.
- Be prepared to adjust caretaking plans as needed. If you get a new job or another situation changes at home, figure out how this change will impact your parents. Will you need additional family support? Will you need more financial support?
- Anticipate the cost of a health care aide if you’ll need assistance providing day-to-day care (bathing, feeding, dressing, etc.). The average cost of an aide is around $21 an hour and can cost around $20,000 a year or more.
- Explore cost-saving options to lessen the burden. Tax deductions can help with the financial obligations of taking care of a parent. Children may be able to claim their parents as dependents and receive a tax deduction.
How to Prepare Your Home for Aging Parents
1. Elder-proof the home for safety.
It’s a common strategy to baby proof a house before a baby is born; you also need to “elder-proof” your house when moving an elderly parent in. This will help ensure your parent is safe and secure as they adjust to life in a new home.
Use this checklist to prepare your 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 stairlift.
- 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 that alert you if your parent leaves home may be a helpful addition.
2. Prioritize everyone’s privacy.
Moving a parent into your home means you’ll share common areas unless you have an in-law suite. Regardless of the home’s size, it’s important to make sure that you and your parents have a place of your own.
The most effective way to have a parent live with you is to maintain as much autonomy as possible, even if they need care. Also, the more independence your parents can maintain, the longer they will be able to thrive. If you do too much for a parent, their mental and physical health can deteriorate more quickly.
Here are some ways to foster independence for parents in a small space:
- Kitchen.– Give your parents their own cabinet in the kitchen for storage. If possible, give them their own shelf in the fridge.
- Laundry – Get laundry baskets and towels for your parents in a different color, so they don’t get mixed up with yours. Encourage your parents to do their own laundry if they are able.
- TVs – Ensure there is a separate television so your parents can watch what they want to watch any time of day or night.
- Seating areas – If there’s room, create a seating space in your parent’s bedroom. It might also help to create a seating area in the master to give you space to get away from your parents.
- Pets – Allow parents their own pet to give them a companion and additional responsibility. If your parents cannot care for the pet, make sure someone else in the family can before allowing a pet into your home.
- Communication – 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.
- Renovations – Add square footage to your home if it makes financial sense. Making the necessary renovations to your home can be costly, but you still might save in the long run compared to a care facility.
When it comes to moving elderly parents into your home, honesty, and preparation is key. Give yourself and your family plenty of time to prepare your home, move excess items to a storage unit, and make financial plans. We hope you’re able to develop a plan that works for both you and your parents. Good luck!