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This post may contain affiliate links, view our disclosure policy for details.
Your parent is getting older and now can’t live alone. They need your help. Before moving parents into your home, ask yourself these five questions.
Moving Parents into Your Home
One of the hardest decisions we have to make is to ask our parent to give up their independent lives and move in with us. Sometimes our parent may choose to move to a retirement community or even into an “in-law suite” in your home simply for companionship. More frequently though it becomes necessary for us, as their children, to make that decision for them just for basic survival.
- They are no longer safe in their home. If your parent can’t get around their home without you worrying about their physical safety then it’s time to move them.
- It’s medically necessary. If they require care that they cannot provide without assistance, then it’s time they move.
- They are forgetting or refuse to take care of themselves. There are many factors and conditions that may cause your parent to forget the basic elements of living like eating, personal hygiene, taking medications, or socialization. These are all necessary for survival and their absence require your intervention.
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There are many factors you must consider when moving your aging parent into your home. This change is going to be difficult on all of you. Do your part and be prepared. Having a plan will make the transition easier on all of you.
Do I have the time?
Doctor’s appointments, hobbies, outings, friendships. Your parent comes to live with you and brings along a life. As their caregiver, it is your job to see their life lived to the fullest. That takes time. You are adding another adult life that often rivals the busy schedules of your children to your schedule.
A bigger role is quality time spent with you. It’s easy as a caregiver to get caught up in the day-to-day tasks. Even when your parent is in a skilled nursing/assisted living facility, we often forget the necessity of just spending time with them.
Before you move your parent into your home you must ask yourself if you have the time needed to devote to being a full-time caregiver and a daughter/son. Be honest with yourself. Go over your typical schedule and decide exactly how you will fit it all in.
I tried to do it all when I became a caregiver for my MIL. I took her to every appointment with the kids in tow. Outings, therapies, support groups, church events were scheduled all in an effort to keep her happy and active. Instead, I exhausted myself trying to do it all. What was left was a tired and short-tempered daughter-in-law with no energy left for the emotional support my MIL needed most from me.
Finally, I hired someone to come in three afternoons a week. She provides much needed companionship for my MIL, helps with basic hygiene (baths can be a battle), and takes my MIL to some appointments and on little outings. These few hours of help every week keep me from burnout.
Do I have the resources?
Caregiving is expensive and the cost only goes up. Before you begin you must decide where the money will come from and exactly where it will go. Consult a senior care attorney or financial advisor before making any big decisions about property. Every state (not to mention country!) has it’s own senior healthcare laws and regulations.
You will also need to ensure that your home is properly accommodated for your aging parents needs. Everything from bars in the bathroom to lift chairs to entrance/exit ramps need to be considered.
When we first began caregiving for my MIL, she would fall daily. She would get bruises and cuts that we couldn’t explain. Every morning I would wake up to a disaster in the kitchen. Food was removed from the refrigerator and left spoiling on the counter. The stove would be left on or she would try to microwave cooking pots. As her primary caregiver I was constantly on edge concerned about her safety. As a mom, I was terrified that something would happen in the night that would affect my young son. Finally, I realized that our home wasn’t prepared for her needs.
- We put night lights in every room and the halls so she could see when she wandered around at night.
- We removed all excess furniture and clutter from her living spaces.
- Our bathroom was remodeled with a walk-in shower and enough room for walkers and wheelchairs.
- We put a camera with sound in her room so we could hear if she falls or needs our help.
- We installed child safety locks on our cabinets, doors, refrigerator, and cooking appliances to prevent her from trying to cook in the middle of the night.
These are all things you must consider when moving your parent into your home.
Can I handle to emotional aspects?
My Grandma used to tell me a story about my dad as a small child. When she would ask him to do something he didn’t want to do, he would look at her and yell, “I hate you!”. We would laugh at the memory knowing that my dad was expressing his anger in a very typical way for a child. They lash out at the person not realizing they are truly just angry at the situation.
We expect these outbursts from our children. In fact, it rarely fazes us because we are well aware that they don’t really mean anything by it. We don’t expect it from our parents especially when we are trying to keep them safe, healthy, and happy. It’s hurtful to hear our parent tell us they don’t want us or our help. We’re wounded when our parent tells us they hate us or asks why we hate them. It’s hard to take our parent’s comparison with our siblings who aren’t able or willing to take on this full-time role and hear that we have never measured up.
As much as we want to justify or explain away our parent’s hurtful words and actions, it doesn’t take away the emotional pain that it causes. Even though we are aware that most often than not our parent is lashing out at the situation and their frustration with their loss of independence it still hurts to hear it.
Am I ok with the lifestyle changes that come with caregiving?
Many people enter caregiving with the idea that their life will continue as it had. The believe they are simply moving their parent into their home. It comes as a shock when you realize that you can’t just leave the house anymore.
If you’re going out as a family, you have to decide if your parent is physical and emotionally capable of handling the outing. Medications and health conditions have to be considered. What about bathroom arrangements or incontinence?
Just going out with your spouse takes extra preparation and planning. If your parent can’t stay by themselves for more than a couple hours, you have to arrange for someone to come in and at least check on them. If you’re gone during a mealtime, someone else will have to prepare their meal. Can your parent handle the confusion of a stranger coming in and providing care?
A few years ago, my husband, two children and I were heading to my family reunion. We left early in the morning. My sister-in-law was coming to stay with her mother but wouldn’t arrive until late that evening. We thought surely my MIL would be able to care for herself in those 8 hours if I left her instructions and reminders around the house.
I asked a friend to stop in and check on her around dinner time. What she found was frightening. My MIL had not eaten a single bite of the food I had left her. She had not taken any of her medication. She was in her dark room sitting on the side of the bed confused and frightened. My friend stayed with her as long as she could and fortunately my SIL arrived shortly after.
Will I be able to manage the tough decisions?
We all want to think that our parents will stay the same even as they get older. For many of us though, that’s just not the case. We see them start making questionable financial decisions, getting lost and confused in familiar locations, failing to make wise decisions for their own health and well-being.
The parent who taught us how to be adults now struggles with the concept.
While they may be seem perfectly capable, their choices prove otherwise. Sometimes we take on an advocatory role where we confide in professionals to advise our parent on the big decisions in our place. Sometimes we can act as a guide and lead them toward wise choices. Other times we must take on a more parental role and make everyday decisions for them. Most often, we assume some combination of all three roles.
Many of us balk at the idea of “parenting our parents” but regardless of what many “experts” may say, this is almost always inevitable at least to some degree.
Related Post: What Does Parenting Your Parents Really Mean?
The Ultimate Caregiver Planner
Don’t get discouraged if all of what I’ve described sounds overwhelming to you! With some planning and answering these questions ahead of time you can make the transition easier on all of you. Let the Ultimate Caregiver Planner guide you as you transition your aging parent from independent living to assisted living. Get your copy day for just $19 (
Did you like this post? What are some questions you ask when moving your aging parents? Let me know in the comments below!
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