Caregiving With Love: My Parents Want to Move in With Me

Adult children become caregivers for aging parents with a sense of duty and responsibility. Caregiving with love is the reason that caregivers persevere through difficult caregiving situations. Caregivers are often asked the question, “my parents want to move in with me, should they?” While having an aging parent move in with adult children may seem like a good idea, it can also be an idea fraught with pitfalls and disasters. The answer to “my parents want to move in with me, should they?” depends on many factors.

How Independent Is Your Aging Parent?

The level of independence of an aging parent is the first consideration in deciding if a parent should or should not move in with an adult child. If the aging parent is relatively independent, still drives, and is moving in for financial necessity or companionship instead of care necessity, this is usually the easiest and least stressful type of situation.

In this situation, when little care is needed, the aging parent can come and go and is able to continue much of the prior activity in his or her life. Having an aging parent live with an adult child in this situation may have benefits for the adult child.

When home services, deliveries, or repairs are needed, the aging parent can be at home to meet service personnel. If pets are in the home, it may be possible for aging parents to engage in physical activity by caring for the pets. Aging parents may also help with other small things like errands and meal preparation if their level of physical independence is high.

What Type of Care Is Needed Today and Likely To Be Needed In The Future?

If an aging parent moves into the home of an adult child for care, what type of care is needed today? Does the support needed today relate to  mainly to reminding and oversight? For example, setting up and reminding to take medications. Making sure that food is available and consumed? Ensuring that physical activity remains part of daily life?

Early in care situations when hands-on care is not needed, assistance for parents who need minimal care is relatively easy. In these situations, if the adult child and the aging parent focus on preventative aspects of care to maintain independence, this type of situation can last for years without significant change.

The qualifier is, do the adult child, and the aging parent understand what it takes to Stay at Home? Many do not. Understanding what it takes to stay at home and all of the preventative measures that can be taken is where caregiving education and support can be of substantial benefit.

How Well Do You, Your Family, And Your Aging Parent Get Along?

The more difficult situations are when aging parents move into family situations. Married children with children and pets can offer more complications than having an aging parent move in with a single adult child. While families hope for the best, there can be substantial interruptions in routines.

In these situations, a mother-in-law type of apartment setup is best so that the routine and activities of the aging parent do not interrupt the routine and activities of the family. For example, aging parents may not like the noise that results from the activities of children. Different television programs may be a preference. Daily schedules are often significantly different from aging parents who may sleep late and go to bed early.

If a mother-in-law type of setup is not possible, then daily routines and schedules must be discussed. Rules for being quiet, watching television, and timing meals must be established so that everyone in the family can be respectful of each other.

Situations, where aging parents move in with families, can work. However, they can also present unexpected challenges. Processes for navigating family disagreements should be put in place so that the presence of an aging parent does not disrupt what would be considered normal for parents raising children.

What Happens When Your Aging Parent Needs More Care Than You Can Provide?

The most important question to ask is what happens when your aging parent needs more care than you can provide? I have worked with caregiving families through situations where adult children brought paid caregivers into the home to care for aging parents.

The process of bringing in-home caregivers into the home worked out best in situations where there was a mother-in-law apartment. Using in-home caregivers when the aging parent lives in the main part of the home can have additional benefits for the family.

In these situations, the in-home caregiver also became a support for the caregivers who were adult children. In addition to providing hands-on care for the aging parent, the in-home caregiver also performed general household tasks to help the family.

This type of additional help by in-home caregivers becomes a necessity when the aging parent needs more care, and this care is provided by the family in the evenings and on the weekends when the family would normally complete tasks and errands.

Setting the Boundary to Move

Even still, a line in the sand or a clear boundary should be set for what happens when your aging parent needs more care than you can provide. At the point where the care of aging parents includes physical and nighttime care, it may be time to move them to a care community if assistance from in-home caregivers cannot meet the need.

While many aging adults do not want to move to assisted living communities or nursing homes, there may be a time when this is physically and financially necessary. Even with the commitment of adult children to keep parents at home, there does come a time when the idea becomes impractical and unsafe.

Looking at the positive, if an aging parent moved in with an adult child or married adult children, it is likely that having more years living in a home environment resulted in a positive quality of life.  In these situations, the decision to move aging parents into the home, made a positive and long-term difference to extend independence and quality of life.

This move to help an aging parent stay at home also likely decreased the financial expense of having to pay for more care earlier in life. All involved should be thankful and make the best out of the next phase of life.

Choosing a care community should be an activity shared by the aging parent and adult children. Thorough considerations should be made specific to all aspects of the move, including the continued level of involvement by adult children. Moving a loved one to a care community usually only moves the care situation to another location. The involvement of adult children is still required to ensure that the aging parent receives good care and comes to no harm.

© 2019 Pamela D. Wilson, All Rights Reserved.

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