You’ve been sensing the relationship dynamics changing and the question comes to mind: Should we move in together? You wonder if you’re ready for that step. How will it change the relationship? Will our stuff blend? How will everyday life change?
If you’re thinking about inviting aging parents to come live with you, the decision can feel just as serious as a couple considering merging their lives. Often, families find it difficult to talk about the topic. Moving in together may be triggered by a slow decline in an aging loved one or a serious event such as a death, diagnosis, or fall. Regardless, taking a step back to anticipate the pros and cons, set expectations, and intentionally prepare can help your family make choices that are right for you.
As one adult son remembers, “When we found out mom had dementia, there was no question that she would need to live with one of us. I never thought it would be me taking her in. I assumed that with young kids still in our home, my younger or older sister would be the one to carry this responsibility. Since she came to live with us, every day is different. It is so much more challenging than I could have imagined and it is so much more rewarding than I could have imagined. I have learned so much from this great honor.”
Whether you’ve been in the eldercare field for 20 years or you’re just beginning to think about the challenges of your aging loved ones, caregiving can be logistically and emotionally difficult.
Here are 7 talking points and tips to fuel the conversation about moving in together:
#1. Long-Term Care
When choosing to move aging parents into your home, it is important to anticipate and think about the long-term care needs they will have. By creating plans with longevity, that can meet the needs of the future as well as the present moment, you will not only save a great deal of stress, but you’ll save crucial financial resources as well. Help your aging loved ones understand their options and participate in making choices. If your loved one needed 24 hour care, or care while you were at work, how would you address that situation together? Would they consider moving into a long-term care facility or would they prefer to have in-home care assist the family in keeping them at home?
Stuff is such a huge part of why we find it difficult to even talk about the idea of moving in together. Moving means downsizing, which can be physically and emotionally overwhelming. What we do with “all the stuff”, be it tchotchkes or the old family home, can really set the tone for the experience of moving in together. Our treasures often hold memories and are an expression of self and story. Ask your loved one what pieces really define “home” for them. Think about how to create a place of honor in your home for a few choices piece that are important to them.
Just because your home meets your family’s needs well doesn’t’ necessarily mean it will meet the needs of aging parents. A Geriatric Care Manager is an eldercare professional who is qualified to provide an unbiased assessment of your aging loved one and the home. They can help families see the home through the eyes of an aging adult, anticipate needs and make modifications to increase safety and adapt.
#4. Setting Expectations
How we set expectations around a situation or agreement really defines our experience of it. The same goes for moving aging parents into your home. As a family, set expectations of who will be doing what. By delegating needs and assessing what siblings and spouses can contribute, you will build a holistic picture of your care team. Finances are the most important area to set expectations in. How will money be managed? Who will pay for bills such as groceries, activities, medical expenses, long-term care, etc.? How will household taxes be impacted by the move? Lastly, set expectations with yourself about what you realistically are capable of giving. Coping with caregiver guilt begins with honoring your limits and acknowledging that you will need care as well.
#5. End-of-Life Care
Death is inevitable, but talking about and understanding your loved one’s wishes around end-of-life care is not. Make it a priority to have the conversation about how they would like to spend their remaining years and what they want and do not want in their care. Having the conversation long before you need to will allow them to give voice to the choices they want made on their behalf. Document these wishes in Advanced Directives and have Durable Powers of Attorney set up.
#6. Impacts on Relationship Dynamics & Self-Care
It is easy to romanticize the idea of caring for aging parents in your own home, however the past can also move in. Be mindful of old family dynamics and behavior patterns that may arise. Create a plan for self-care to help you stay balanced, navigate the changes, and find the mental and emotional support you and your family need.
#7. Defining Space & Setting Goals
Our houses are an important part of how we meet our goals for well-being. We are able to find rest, safety, sustenance, companionship, autonomy, and self-expression in the homes we create. The goal of having an aging loved one move in with you would be to fold them into the safety and well-being that your space and care can offer. It is important that your own privacy, freedom, and well-being are not traded for theirs. Talk about the need for space and create structure and rhythms to the day that help define a new normal. By setting patterns of regular conversation, you can help dialogue about whether the space is meeting the goals you defined at the outset and what changes can be made along the way.
For more tips on how to create a home and weigh the pros and cons of living with an aging loved one click the article “A Home within a Home: Creating a Space for Aging Parents Living with Adult Children.” or visit the Home Safety and Aging in Place section of the SoundLife Blog.
To find out more about care options in the home or Professional Geriatric Care Manages, visit www.SoundOptions.com or give us a call at 800.628.7649.
Published on April 8, 2015.