There comes a point in most people’s lives where you can no longer live alone. As an adult child of an elderly parent, this puts you in a difficult situation. Do you move them into a care facility? Or do you welcome them into your home?
4 Tips for Moving an Elderly Parent Into Your Home
Over the past couple of decades, the term “shared living” has risen to prominence in the United States. It’s a term that’s used to describe adults who live under the same roof but are not romantically involved. And one of the biggest driving factors in this movement is the “boomerang” trend. But it’s not the boomerang you’re thinking of. Because while, yes, there are plenty of young adults moving back in with their boomer parents, there’s an even larger constituent of aging boomer parents moving in with their adult children.
“Adults who live in someone else’s household typically live with a relative,” Pew Research Center reports. “Today, 14 percent of adults living in someone else’s household are a parent of the household head, up from 7 percent in 1995.”
In other words, the number of elderly parents living with adult children has doubled in just 25 years. And with thousands of boomers reaching retirement age every single day, this number will continue to creep up.
If you have an aging parent moving into your home, here are some ways to ease the burden for all parties involved:
- Give Yourself Time
It’s wise to give yourself (and your elderly parent) as much time as possible to make the transition. This isn’t something you want to do in a single weekend. It should be a drawn-out process where you gradually transition your parent from their home to yours. This long runway gives you the time needed to update your house, move in possessions, and get used to the idea of sharing your home with someone else.
- Set Some Ground Rules
There’s a little bit of a strange dynamic when an elderly parent moves in with you. Until now, they’ve always been the one “in charge.” But as soon as they enter your house, they have to appreciate the fact that this is your space and your domain. Each family member – including yourself – needs to know what’s expected of them.
“On Day 1, adult children should set expectations about things such as private versus shared areas of the home, who is in charge of what household responsibilities and what the financial expectations are for the parent and the adult child,” caregiver advocate Lakelyn Hogan explains.
You don’t have to be rude or stern about these expectations. You should, however, draw very clear lines and take control of potentially-divisive ideas before they become problematic.
- Develop a Financial Plan
Finances can get sticky in a situation like this. There will always be questions about who pays for what. Some parents will open up their “pocketbooks,” which could create friction for other siblings and loved ones. Other parents won’t be able to pay for anything, which obviously leaves you with all of the financial burden. Ideally, you want to land somewhere in between these two extremes. This is where having a financial plan helps. This document will touch on:
- Does the adult parent pay rent?
- Who pays for utilities?
- Who pays for food?
- Will there be automatic transfers for payments?
It’s also worth noting that many states have programs established that allow an elderly individual to pay their adult children for caregiving. For example, New York has a program called CDPAP, which is funded by Medicare. It allows New Yorkers to hire their own caregivers (including children, friends, and other loved ones).
- “Parent-Proof” Your House
The final suggestion is to parent-proof your house (if necessary). For example, you might need to turn a bath into a walk-in shower. Or if your parent uses a wheelchair, it might be necessary to widen a couple of doorways. Think about these details ahead of time!
Give Yourself Grace
Caring for an aging parent is stressful enough. Moving them into your home adds an entirely new dimension to the mix. And while you certainly feel some pressure to provide the best care you can, it’s also important that you give yourself grace. You don’t have to be perfect – and you don’t have to do everything. There are plenty of resources out there to help. Admit when you can’t do something and don’t be afraid to ask for help. These are the marks of a selfless caregiver!