Mom needs extra help these days, and she’s also lonely without Dad. I worry about her rattling around her big house by herself, but she’s been adamant about not being “put in a home.” Should I have her move in with me? Family’s supposed to take care of each other, right?
It’s common for families to assume that if a senior parent ever needs care, they’ll move in with one of their grown children; and quite a few of them do. According to Caregiving in the U.S. 2015, a study conducted by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, 35 percent of care recipients live in their caregiver’s home.
Having grandparents and grandchildren spending time together, giving back to your parent by being there to care for them, nurturing your own relationship with them – this ideal scenario can and does happen. But not always. There are important issues that should be addressed before making that commitment. And you also need to know what your options are if your parent needs care but moving in isn’t the solution.
Questions to Ask
Family Caregiver Alliance recommends asking a lot of questions before making the decision to have your parent move in with you. These questions fall under five categories: relationships, your home, personal care, money and time.
- How do my significant other and children feel about moving my parent in? How will it change our lives together?
- How is my relationship with my parent? Is it healthy, or is it problematic?
- What are my needs for privacy and alone time? What are my parent’s needs?
- What things will be easy for us to negotiate in living together, and what things will be hard?
- How will my siblings feel? How much help will they be able to give me in caring for our parent?
- Where will my parent sleep? Will someone have to give up their bedroom, or will we convert another room? Or perhaps build an addition?
- What assistive devices will I need to buy and install – grab bars, raised toilet seats, ramps, etc.?
- Does my parent smoke or drink – and will that be a problem for us?
- Does my parent have a pet that will be living with us too? Can we care for it?
- How comfortable am I helping my parent with activities of daily living, like bathing, dressing, help with toileting or changing an adult brief?
- What are the limits of my ability to care for my parent at home?
- Do I know what to expect over time as my parent’s condition changes?
- How is my health? Will I be able to take care of myself as well as my parent?
- Am I willing to accept respite care to get a break?
- Will there be additional expenses to provide care?
- How will those expenses be paid for? Will I pay for them or will my parent?
- What will the financial arrangement be? Should I charge rent or ask for help with groceries?
- How will my siblings feel about the financial arrangement? Will they be able to help?
- Will my work situation have to change? If so, how will I cover the bills?
- Will my parent need care during the day? If so, how will it be provided?
- How will I manage my job, child care responsibilities, marriage and taking care of my parent?
- When will I have time for myself?
Alternatives to Consider
If, after answering these questions, you and your parent decide that moving in is not the best scenario, plenty of good alternatives are available. Senior living today is not what your parent may remember as “the home.” You can find senior living communities that fit your parent’s lifestyle and meet their care needs.
- Independent Living is an option if your parent is still active and healthy but would like more opportunities to socialize, have stimulating activities and programs available, and not have to hassle with home maintenance.
- Assisted Living communities provide the extra help needed with activities of daily living. The goal is to help residents be as independent as possible. Programs and activities are also available. Some Assisted Living communities also have Memory Care for those with memory impairments such as Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.
- Life Plan Communities, also known as continuing care retirement communities, have Independent Living and a full continuum of care available if your parent ever needs it.
We hope this information is helpful to you in the important work you do as a family caregiver.
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