Should Your Aging Parent Come To Live With You?
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By Molly Shomer
Tell people you’re thinking about bringing a parent to live with you and your family in your home and half will say, “I’d rather have root canal without anesthetic!” The other half will show varying degrees of enthusiasm, depending on their relationships with their own parents.
If the thought of having your parent or your in-law move in spontaneously makes you clench your teeth, then this isn’t a good option and you can stop reading now.
On the other hand, if you think it might be a good idea, there are several things you should thoroughly explore before you forge ahead with moving a parent in with you and your family.
First, do you all genuinely like each other most of the time? That doesn’t mean, “Do you never have disagreements? or, “Do you never get upset with each other?” Show me a family who says they never have disagreements, never argue, and always feel 100% about each other all the time and I’ll show you a family that needs some serious help. Someone isn’t seeing it like it is.
Family members who genuinely like each other (most of the time) are able to have disagreements, even arguments. At the end of the day healthy families can resolve their differences, or agree to differ, and move on. If there are unresolved conflicts it would certainly be a good idea to tend to these before making a major change.
How do all the members of your family feel about having an in-law or a grandparent move in? Children should be heard, even if they are not given a final vote. Does the older person have health issues or behaviors that an older child or adolescent would find embarrassing? Are you prepared to manage the practically inevitable teen-age resentments?
Is your home spacious enough to accommodate your parent comfortably on the ground floor? Will a child have to relinquish a room? Is there a bathroom large enough to handle a walker, a wheelchair, and other equipment that may be needed? Do you have the resources to make any necessary renovations?
Can your parent live independently, or does he or she require assistance? Is the assistance something that you can provide, or will professional help be needed? Does your parent have health issues which will predictably call for more and more help? Will you need to make other living arrangements if your parent’s needs grow beyond a certain point?
Will you be in danger of falling back into your old role of “daughter” or “son” instead of head of your own household if your parent or in-law moves in? Will you be able to set limits, and will your elder be able to adjust to the rules and customs of your house, which might be quite different from what he or she is accustomed to?
What will the financial arrangements be between you and your parent(s)? It is very important to come to a firm mutual agreement about how finances will be managed well before a move. This may be the most difficult part of any discussion you have with a parent, because money and all of its implications is usually a “loaded” subject between the generations.
Talk these questions through thoroughly with everyone involved. Give serious thought to the compromises you would be willing to make, and what you would not be able to do. Be completely honest with yourself and your other family members, and give them the opportunity to be completely honest with you.
Then, and only then, if you feel certain that this move would be a positive one for you, your family, and your parent…and if your parent feels the same…move forward with confidence that you at least have a firm foundation to build on.
About the Author: The Eldercare Team invites you to learn about all the living options available to older adults. You can pick up more resources, more articles, and plenty of free tips about senior residential options and aging parent care at eldercareteam.com/senior-housing.htm
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