Coping with caring for elderly parents is fraught with many emotionally charged decisions. Caregivers quickly tire of caregiving roles and responsibilities. Adult children, who may also be healthcare providers  often ask the question, “should aging parents move in?”

Before making this decision, there are many questions that should be asked. If you work for a care agency or in a caring community then sharing the questions in this article with family caregivers may help shed light on the all-important and life-changing decision of “should aging parents move in?”

Here’s a list of questions to ask yourself if you are considering moving parents to live with you and to share with family members struggling with care choices for elderly parents.

How Independent Is Your Aging Parent?

The level of independence of an aging parent is the first consideration to decide if aging parents should move in with family members. 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 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 also may have benefits.

When repairs or home services are needed, the aging parent can be at home to meet the repairman and others. 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 the level of 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 relate 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?

Many professional caregivers who are CNAs or nurses become caregivers at work and in the home of aging parents. For these professionals, considering bringing a loved one into a home may feel like a “why wouldn’t I do this?”

Carefully Weigh The Decision

When considering whether should I move an aging parent into my home really should be how will this affect my ability to continue to work and care for myself? Will the stress of being a double or triple-duty caregiver be too much?

Early on 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 that 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.

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.

For professional caregivers, the decision often becomes a decision to leave the workplace to caregive at home full time.  For women, this decision should be weighed very carefully.

Consideration should be given to the long-term effect of reduced income, re-entering the workforce, and retirement and social security savings. While women choose to care for family members, there is often no one left to care for them when they age and need care.

The Option of In-Home Caregivers

The process of bringing in-home caregivers into the home worked out best in situations where there was a mother-in-law’s 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 a single 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 more than likely made a positive and long-term difference in the quality of life of the parent.

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 aging parents 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.

Looking for more resources for caregiving families or yourself, check out Pamela’s complimentary online webinar program about caring for elderly loved ones.

© 2019, 2022 Pamela D. Wilson, All Rights Reserved.

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