Are you trying to figure out how to care for an aging parent? You’re not alone. Coming up with a comprehensive strategy can be stress-inducing, and there is no single right or wrong answer. Could the solution be as simple as moving in with elderly parents? You move into their current home, or they enter yours, and life goes on. Not quite.
Unfortunately, uprooting someone’s current life is rarely straightforward, especially when they’re older. Several questions and concerns can pop up. Since planning for what’s to come can help minimize the disruption, we suggest taking a step back from the situation to try to sort through the questions posed in this article. Make sure you have a solid footing in the first section before you move on to the next.
We aren’t here to give you the answers, but rather make sure that you’re addressing the right questions. Try to be flexible throughout this process. Realize that even if you answer a question with certainty now, things could change. Answer these questions as honestly as possible so that you and your parents can sustain the best quality of life possible. At the end of the article, we will offer some helpful advice and resources to help you and your parents get through this transition.
Making a Decision
Is it time to move your parents?
The only people who can answer the question of whether you should move in with your aging parents are you, your family, and your parents. To help make your decision easier, consider all aspects of the decision.
It’s worth noting that deciding to live with your parents again is rarely ever a one-dimensional decision. People get accustomed to their routine, and adding another person or two into the mix can significantly alter living dynamics. The change can be extraordinarily cumbersome if the loved one requires outside care or has experienced an increased mental decline.
The best thing you can offer to yourself and your parents is a candid assessment of the situation. Even if a sudden illness or a financial setback seems to be forcing a decision, it’s worth exploring how that decision is going to impact you and your family for better or worse.
Answer these important questions on whether aging parents should live with you:
- How much care do my parents require? Will I need to hire outside help?
- Do my parents want to change their lifestyle? Are they ready to downsize?
- How will my lifestyle change if they move in? How will the family dynamics change? Is this a compromise that is worth it?
Where should your elderly parents live?
If it’s clear that your parents can no longer take care of their household, they should move somewhere that is more accomodating. This new home could be a smaller apartment, assisted living, a nursing home, or moving in with a family member. Sometimes parents are ready for this transition, and sometimes they are not ready at all. Your job will be to explore all the options and then teach your parents about the best option based on all factors, including their opinion.
Sort through the following questions with your parents if possible:
- If we decide on a nursing home or assisted living facility, can we afford it? What type of financial assistance is available?
- Are there other family members that can help support my parents? How can we help prevent loneliness and depression if they move into a nursing home?
- Would I consider moving closer to an assisted living facility, or should I choose a facility that is close to my current home?
- How will I feel if I decide to move away from my aging parents? Will this impact our relationship? Will they understand?
- Is it possible to relocate my family to be closer to my parents?
- Is my home large enough for my parents to live with me? If not, where could my parents live? With a sibling? With another family member?
- How much will our budget change if my parents move in?
- Is it safe for my parents to live with me? Do we need to be wheelchair accessible? Are our bathrooms safe to navigate? If not, can we make them safe while staying within our budget?
How can you prepare for the transition?
Once you know where your parents are moving, figure out how you are going to make it all work. It can be challenging to take care of an elderly parent in your home, and it is hard to move your parents into a nursing home.
If your parent is making the decision for themself, discuss the following:
- Will my parents have any financial responsibility?
- What space is available in my home for my parents to live in? Will they be able to have privacy? How can we make things more private?
- Will parents share any household responsibilities, like chores?
- How will we downsize their current belongings? Will we hold an estate sale?
How will you cope with challenges?
Even if you answered every question to this point and came up with a plan, there’s a significant chance that there will be challenges.
After you have your initial plan, figure out how you will overcome potential challenges:
- How can I live with a parent and still maintain boundaries?
- Is it possible to communicate with my parents healthily? If not, how can we improve communication before we move in?
- If my parents have a severe illness, what support and resources do I have to cope with that challenge?
- What will I do if my parents refuse to move?
- What if they move in with me, and it doesn’t work out? How do I ask my parents to move out of my house?
Tips for Living with an Aging Parent
Now that you’ve tried to answer the following questions on your own, here are some tips for living with or caring for an elderly parent.
1. Make a pros and cons list.
If you are having trouble deciding if moving in with elderly parents is the right call, create a thorough pros and cons list. Some items on your list might include:
- My parents can help babysit occasionally.
- Our relationship will get closer.
- We might argue and ruin our relationship.
- My parents need more care than I can give.
2. Practice honest communication.
Don’t forget your parents’ sense of agency, even if they are aging and might have some health issues. Try not to talk down to them or parent them throughout this transition. Talk to each other like peers as often as you can and work on expressing things that bother you.
In that same sense, take time to listen to your parents and try your best to put yourself in their shoes. Sometimes it’s helpful to validate their experience and give them time to want to downsize or change their lifestyle on their own.
3. Seek outside support.
Just like it takes a village to raise a child, it often takes outside support to offer your parents the care they require. Before any decisions are made, include all your siblings, even if they live out of town. They might be able to help out financially, even if they are unable to be physically present. Be an advocate for your parents and figure out their most significant vulnerabilities. Will they need therapeutic services? Should you schedule in visits or game nights if they live outside the home?
Here are some places you can seek senior support:
- Find food for seniors through the Commodity Supplemental Food Program.
- Secure healthcare through the State Health Insurance Assistance Program.
- See if you qualify for free home care for seniors through the Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly.
Here are some articles to help with the actual move:
- Moving Tips for Seniors with Disabilities
- Downsizing for Seniors Checklist
- What to Do When You Inherit a House
Most people who look for advice on moving in with elderly parents don’t realize that they know the answer deep down. Perhaps they just weren’t answering the right questions and wanted someone else to tell them what to do. Own your decision and try not to doubt yourself. Make the best of what is available to you at any given moment. This decision is personal and unique to every family. The best thing you can do is to support your loved one while also supporting yourself.
If you need help throughout the transition, Life Storage can offer temporary storage options while you move and downsize.