There is a growing trend of parents moving in with their adult children. All across the country, unexpected problems arise from this dubious living arrangement and cause family arguments, financial stress and increased rates of divorce.
Before moving a parent in and making a life-altering change to your family’s harmony, there are many things to consider. Inviting an elderly parent to move in has far-reaching implications for every aspect of your life, from financial impact to changing family dynamics, from role re-assignment to safety issues and from power struggles to privacy.
Have a clear and open discussion with your family, siblings, spouse, kids, and ultimately your parent, to decide if making the move is the right decision for all parties involved. Discuss:
• The pros and cons.
• The different ways this move will effect the family.
• The ways each family member’s routines may be disrupted.
• Expectations that may differ from “the way things have always been.”
• Any possible monetary issues that could arise.
• Compromises that each family member will have to make.
An elderly parent is apt to have a litany of doctor appointments, medication, and needs. With the help of medical and geriatric care professionals, assess your parent’s medical needs and gain a clear understanding of how those needs will affect you and your family. Gather all possible medical resources, containing both specific people and organizations, to minimize frustrations as well as possible mistakes. Use your support network to create and implement a plan as well as back-up plans.
Moving is stressful under any circumstance. Moving an aging parent into your home entails a permanent lifestyle change that may be met with resistance, which can make it even more difficult. Plan for every detail up front to minimize the potential strife. Ready yourself for volatile emotions and flaring tempers from all parties. Use your utmost compassion and support when you decide what stays and what goes. Avoid sweeping decisions, such as throwing away Grandma’s 50 year-old collection of National Geographics without discussing it with her first. Decide ahead on furniture placement. Make a plan for items that cannot fit into your house — storage, give away, other family members.
Your parent is used to running a household with his or her own rules. Each family member must compromise to make the new living arrangement successful. It is important to create a plan that is respectful to all parties so your parent doesn’t feel slighted and uncomfortable as the “newcomer” to your home. You also want to make sure that you and your spouse do not feel like outsiders. Decide on:
• Who waters the plants and feeds the cat, etc.
• Who helps and who doesn’t help in the kitchen.
• How you like laundry done.
• Bathroom etiquette.
• What you make for dinner and at what time.
• When the lights go out and the television goes off.
David Horgan is a medical educator, filmmaker and director from CaregiverVillage.com who shares his firsthand account of what to do, what not to do and what can happen — the good and the bad — in his book “ When Your Parent Moves In.”