Deciding if you should move an aging parent into your home is a big decision. There are important issues that should be addressed before making the commitment.
An estimated 25-35% of family caregivers live in the same home with the person they are caring for. Every family situation is different; for some, it’s assumed the adult children will take care of their parents “when the day comes.” For other families, aging parents balk at the idea of moving in with their grown children.
The first step is to determine if your parent needs help. Here are several “red flags” to look for:
- Not enough food in the kitchen, unable to cook meals
- Bills are not being paid and/or utilities are being cut off for non-payment
- Housekeeping: Debris is piling up around the house; kitchen and bathrooms are not being cleaned; sheets and clothing are not being washed.
- House maintenance: lawn and landscaping is overgrown; home maintenance and repairs are being ignored
- Personal Grooming: Your parent is not getting regular haircuts, taking showers, or not cutting their nails.
- Pets: are the pets being under/over fed? Is the pet being groomed? Is the pet’s waste being disposed of properly?
If you observe these things, and feel your parent may not be safe living alone, it may be time to begin the discussion. But first, thoughtfully contemplate the following questions:
- How much care is needed?
Are you comfortable helping your parent with activities of daily living, like bathing, dressing, toileting, etc.
- Are you qualified to provide the needed care?
Does your parent have extreme memory loss or other special needs?
- What’s your relationship like?
Is it healthy or problematic? Living together can magnify existing personality conflicts and may cause extra stress.
- Do you have enough time?
Do you work outside the home? Do you also have children to take care of?
- Is your home safe and/or accessible?
Do you have a spare bedroom? Do you need home modifications or assistive devices?
- Can you afford the extra expense?
In addition to possible home upgrades, caring for an aging adult can be an expensive with an estimated annual cost of $5,500 to $15,000 per year. Can you parent or siblings help with the expenses?
- Does your family support you?
How does your spouse, children, and even siblings feel about the move?
- Does your parent smoke or drink?
Do you? If so, will this be a problem for either of you?
- Does your parent have a pet?
Do you have pets? How will they be affected and cared for?
- How is your health?
Will you be able to take care of yourself as well? What are your personal limits?
If, after answering these questions, you and your parent decide moving in is not going to work, plenty of good alternatives are available. Senior living has evolved tremendously in the past 50 years and there are more options than ever before.
- Personal Assistant Services, also known as Companionship Caregivers, provide non-nursing, in-home care. These private-pay caregivers can be hired for as little as a few hours each week up to 24 hours a day/7-days a week. Services vary, but usually include meal preparation, light housekeeping, medication reminders, errand services, and even personal hygiene assistance.
- Independent Living communities are 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.
Sources: Thank you to WhereYouLiveMatters.org and Family Caregiver Alliance and Home Choice.
We hope this information is helpful to you in the important work you do as a family caregiver.
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