Taking care of an elderly parent in your home is a huge commitment. It can strengthen family bonds and improve caregiving logistics, but it may not always work out as everyone had hoped.
At some point, many adult children will face the reality of caring for elderly parents. Nearly 17% of adults living in the U.S. care for someone who is 50 or older, according to Caregiving in the U.S. 2020, a study by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving.
If a loved one can no longer live on their own, one option is moving your elderly parents into your home. But how do you know if this arrangement is right for you and your family?
This arrangement can have many positives. If your parent or other loved one is still relatively healthy, he or she may be able to help 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.
But it’s not right for everyone. It may be cheaper than putting the person in a nursing home (which costs about $80,000 per year on average) or an assisted living facility (about $43,000 per year on average), but you could pay a heavy price in terms of time, stress, fatigue, and strained relations.
By considering the financial and emotional costs ahead of time, both you and your parent will be in a better position to make an informed, rather than purely emotional decision. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.
Can you afford to move a parent into your home?
At first glance, you might think that moving a parent into your home will be saving costs. After all, they won’t need to pay a mortgage, home insurance, or other homeowner costs. However, caregiving at your own home can get expensive quickly. It’s important to take some time to look at your current budget and predict how it might change if your parent moves in. For example, you’ll continue to pay your own household expenses, including mortgage and insurance, but you will likely increase your payments for groceries as well as any home improvements or modifications to make your new living arrangement safe for your older parent.
Do you have the support you need to stay healthy?
Moving a parent into your home is more than just a financial responsibility. It also has serious ramifications on your emotional health. The Sandwich Generation — or adult children who are tasked with caring for their own children as well as for their aging parents — is under a great deal of stress thanks to all of the personal and professional obligations they carry. Without the proper support, moving a parent into your home can end up leaving you with caregiver burnout.
Before you consider moving your parents into your home, make sure you have the support systems in place so that you aren’t shouldering all of the caregiving tasks. Ask other family members to commit to helping out weekly with specific tasks, such as running Mom to the doctor or giving you a night off by stopping by with dinner.
Is your home safe for your parent?
If your parent has mobility challenges, chronic pain, cognitive decline or other complex medical conditions, you might simply not be set up to keep them safe in your home. Safety modifications, including grab bars, new lighting, and step-in showers, can prevent the risk of falling, but they begin to add up quickly. In cases of cognitive decline, leaving home to go to work might become unrealistic if your parent needs more hands-on support and redirection.
Talk to your local Area Agency on Aging for recommendations that you can use to adjust your home to best suit your parent’s mobility and abilities. If you are unable to provide them with the safety adjustments they need, moving in might not be the best — or safest — idea right now.
Are my parents going to be isolated or lonely?
Beyond how moving your parents into your home affects you, it also affects them. While you and your parents might be more engaged with one another when living together, they will likely miss their neighbors and friends once they move to your home. Without reliable transportation, they might not be able to attend events or programs they once enjoyed and looked forward to.
Isolation and feelings of loneliness are common in older adults, though we are only beginning to learn the health consequences that accompany these feelings. The National Institutes of Health reports that isolated seniors are more likely to be depressed, have more rapid cognitive decline and are more vulnerable to heart disease than their social peers.
What are your other options?
Moving your parents into your home might not be the best decision for you or for them, and while there are a lot of emotions that come with that decision, many others in your situation come to the same conclusion. Instead of finding support systems and a contractor to modify your current home, focus your energy on finding realistic and healthy alternatives to your parent living with you or on their own.
Today’s senior living communities are not like what you might be imagining, especially if you have not been to a community in the past decade. Exceptional communities are committed to creating an environment not just focused on safety and care, but also on promoting healthy living and important social connections. It is also common for family relationships to thrive when a parent chooses community living because it gives everyone peace of mind and the opportunity to be family and not roommates.
The right senior living community can offer your parent luxury amenities, personalized care assistance (if needed), and a social lifestyle to support overall wellness. SOURCE: humangood.org