As our parent's age, we want to do what is best for their wellbeing. And while this care takes on many forms, many adult children are now living with their aging parents. This transition is much like other life milestones -- there are pros and cons.
"One out of every four caregivers lives with the elderly or disabled relative he or she cares for," Mard Naman writes for Caring. "This arrangement can have many positives. If your parent or other loved one is still relatively healthy, he may be able to babysit or otherwise help around the house, contribute financially, and get to know your children in a way that would never be possible with only occasional visits."
So, if you decide that this is a potential step for your family, what should you consider? The following are some of the most important steps that you should take before opening your home to your elderly parents or in-law.
- Build a Budget: To make the transition as stress-free for everyone involved, it is absolutely crucial to create a new household budget. Although it's never comfortable talking about money, you may need to consider whether your loved one has Social Security payments or savings to contribute to the family finances. Either way, you should know exactly how this transition will affect your finances before moving day.
- Have A Family Conversation: You don't have to make your loved one's care decisions on your own. Depending on your family's circumstances, it may be best to also include siblings and other family members in the conversation. This way, you can consider all possible paths before deciding that moving them into your home is the best choice.
- Manage Their Home Sale: Moving your aging family member into your home may mean that you will have to sell their home. They may need your help to do this, but don't hesitate to hire a professional. In a recent survey, 78% of home buyers found their real estate agent to be a useful information source. No matter their prior living situation, it is often worth it to sell through a company rather than on your own.
- Account For Their Health Needs: Before your loved one moves in, make an appointment with their doctor to go over how you can help manage their health. If they have any special equipment, you will need to learn how to use it safely. Of course, your personal involvement will vary depending on their own mental capacity.
- Adjust Your Home: Living with an elderly family member will likely require you to modify your home for their safety. Since 50% of falls happen in the home, it is important for you to install railings, remove floor hazards, and make your bathroom more accessible. Since 65% of people over the age of 60 experience dizziness or loss of balance, sometimes daily, you need to be ready.
- Know Your Care Capacity: Knowing your loved one's risk for falls and other injuries, you should also consider how capable you actually are of monitoring their health and providing care. Especially if you have young children, this may not be feasible. This is why at-home care can be an attractive option for many families. According to the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute, there are over 2 million home care workers providing services in the United States today. Hiring one of these trained professionals may be worth it for your busy family.
As you are making this important decision, remember that moving your aging loved one into your home may not necessarily be the best option for your family. Dana Larson writes in A Place For Mom that assisted living communities can also be a viable long term care solution for your parent, especially when living at home deprives them of social contact.
"This is why many families opt to move their aging relatives into a residential community, or assisted living -- where there is 24-hour access to personal care, as well as nutrition and wellness services designed specifically for older adults," she writes. "In these communities, seniors can enjoy social contact, security and support while still maintaining their independence. You will need to decide what makes the most sense for your family’s unique situation."
No matter what you decide, remember to always keep your loved one's best interest and wishes at heart. Anything you do should be done out of compassion. That will guide you well.