With the population living longer than ever, more and more aging adults find they need to move in with their children. But how do you move them in and keep the peace? And what are the challenges, implications, and joys?
When joining together, compromises need to be made. I’ll take a look at this growing phenomenon and help guide you through the lows and highs of bringing generations together.
Making the Decision to Move Your Aged Parents In
This is a tough one and not a decision to be taken lightly. Everyone needs to weigh in and agree. Start with your spouse. Are they on board? Living with an in-law can be rough on some people. Don’t assume because you think it’s a good idea that your spouse does too.
Have a serious talk. If your spouse has hesitations, discuss them in a nonconfrontational civil manner. He or she may bring up points that you hadn’t considered. Keep in mind if your spouse doesn’t have a say in the idea or feels pressured, it will cause resentment. I have found that resentment doesn’t diminish with time, it only increases. So don’t go with the “He’ll get used to it” or “She’ll grow to enjoy it” theory.
Remember, people grow older, not younger. I know this may sound obvious, but we often forget that when it comes to parents. Your mother or father may be in great shape now, but what about five or ten years from now? There can be a big difference between a 70-year-old and an 80-year-old when it comes to health and needs. Will you be ready for that?
This is a long-term commitment, with the circumstances possibly changing over time. Both you and your spouse should look at it clearly, discuss it and be on the same page.
How to Convince Your Elderly Parent to Move in with You
Convincing your elderly parent to move in with you should start while they’re still healthy. If they’ve made it to 70 without any major health issues, I would start broaching the subject. Please don’t wait until they’ve fallen or are too unhealthy to stay alone. They’ll think they’re being punished if you insist on them moving in.
I have found there are several DON’Ts when talking to your parents about moving in:
- Don’t dictate-No one wants to be told what to do. A parent who’s always been in charge is especially sensitive to this, going to stop listening and then shut down.
- Don’t treat your parents as children-These are adults. Regardless of the circumstances, they must be treated with the same respect and consideration as any other adult.
- Don’t make decisions without parental input-It’s their life. Your parents have a right to discuss the options with you and decide what they want to do. You can guide them, but ultimately the decision is theirs.
Besides your parents, other family members living outside the household may also be impacted. If you have siblings, they need to be included in the decision making process.
How to Talk to Siblings About Aging Parents Moving In
When talking to siblings about aging parents moving in, meet in a neutral location. Don’t dictate. All the siblings should offer their opinions. Discuss caretaking and financial concerns. Make sure the aged parents are part of the conversation if possible. The parent is the final decision maker.
Nothing can tear a family apart like deciding where mom and dad are going to live. There are many concerns, including:
- Caregiving if needed
- Financial concerns
- Wills and property
All disagreements concerning these items can cause tempers to flare. This is especially true if there’s money involved.
It’s probably not a good idea to start new construction on an addition for mom or a new cottage in the backyard until everyone agrees. This is especially true if your parents are paying for the new digs.
If there are any legal concerns, you might want to consult an attorney.
How to Help an Aged Parent Transition into Your Home
When an aged parent moves in, make sure they have their own space but incorporate them into the family’s life. Routine is important. Set up a time for meals, medication, exercise, or any leisure activities. In general, this will provide the structure that both an elderly parent and the family need.
Without restricting the entire family too much, a basic routine will do wonders to keep your aged parent on track. They know what time breakfast is. They also know that on Tuesday you have a fitness class after work. This lets them know you’ll be out late and why. Establishing a routine takes the mystery out of living in a new environment. And I think when the mystery disappears, the fear disappears, and with it goes possible conflict.
Calendars with daily schedules are great ways to keep everyone on the same track. Seniors like to know what’s happening. It makes them feel in control of their lives. If your aged parent can look at a paper that tells them when Susie has a soccer game, they feel they are part of the family. A calendar is also a way to jog a senior’s forgetful mind to remember to take medication. Simple solution, but it helps to keep stress down for everyone.
A friend of mine took the calendar idea one step further. She put her aged mother in charge of the calendar. When the kids came home, they reported to Grandma what was going on with their schedule, and Grandma wrote it down. All household and family activities went through Grandma. This resulted in her elderly mother not only feeling a part of the family but useful.
Divide up Household Tasks
Dividing up kitchen tasks should be established. Major battles between mothers and daughters can develop over who has control of the kitchen. Divvy up the kitchen workload. Maybe mom can take care of breakfast. This will save you time while you’re getting ready for work. And it allows your aged mother to regain her familiar fiefdom. This is what I call a win-win.
Write down a list of chores. And ask what your aged mother or father would like to do. Some of these could be:
- Dog Walking or feeding
- Laundry folding
It may not be possible for your parents to always participate in these activities, but at least they have the option to help out.
How do Your Aged Parents Feel about Living With You
I think it’s very hard for an elderly parent to suddenly move in with their adult child. Think about it; they’ve always taken care of you. And now the roles are reversed. The “I don’t want to be a burden” mentality kicks in. Your aged parent will worry about interfering with your life. They may also be afraid. It’s scary growing old and possibly being treated like a child.
If their spouse has recently passed away, they may still be in mourning…even depressed. Or they may be a little embarrassed about their medical needs. This is especially true if there’s an incontinence problem.
I would talk to them about these issues. Listen to their concerns. You’ll have to walk the line between taking care of them and understanding their need to be treated like an adult.
By having an adult conversation with them, in a calm tone, you’ll probably dispel a lot of their fears and concerns. They’ll feel more like an adult again.
If there are lingering issues, a visit to the doctor’s office for additional advice is also a good idea. This is particularly true if your parent seems sad.
Prepare for Your Aged Parent Moving in
Think it out. What does it mean to have your aged parent move in. Start with your spouse and your siblings. Everyone needs to buy into the plan.
Remember, this is a major upheaval to your parent’s life; and to yours. Your aged parent is going to have many fears and concerns. Discuss these concerns.
Find ways to incorporate you parent into the family. Everyone wants to be wanted and needed. Show your parent that despite their age, you still need them.