Should Your Aging Loved One Move in with You?
As your loved one gets older, the risks and downsides of them living on their own increase. Your first thought may be to ask them to move into your home, but this isn’t always the best senior care option for every family. Before you make any decisions about moving your parent or senior loved one into your home, consider the pros and cons of this option first.
Pros of Moving Your Senior Loved One into Your Home
Moving in with family can certainly be an appealing option for seniors, especially when you consider the cost savings involved. Many seniors are living on limited budgets, and maintaining a house, paying bills, and covering general expenses can be a burden. Bringing your senior loved one into your home can seem like the best financial option for your family.
More Quality Time
Between work, caring for your family, and other social demands, it can be a challenge to work in quality visits with your parent or senior loved one. If your parent moves in with you, however, you have a chance to spend time with them every day. You can share meals, run errands, and provide the level of care they need.
Sharing more time with your senior loved one can be a blessing for your family and can enrich your daily lives. You never want your parent to feel lonely or neglected, which are some common feelings seniors experience when they live alone. The strong bond you felt with your parent as a child through daily interaction and support can be replicated in this season of their life. You have the opportunity to make the most of the time you have together.
Help Around Your Home
Bringing your parent into your home can also provide a little extra support for you and your children, if you have them. If you’re a parent, you know how expensive the cost of child care can be. However, if grandma or grandpa is there to offer a helping hand, you can cut down on some of those costs. They can help by picking up the kids from school if they’re able to drive or staying with them while you run errands or go out of town.
Even for the senior loved ones who aren’t able to provide child care, they can still be a huge help with light chores or pet sitting. Small tasks like doing laundry, preparing meals, or doing the dishes can help to alleviate some of your household responsibilities each day. Your senior loved one may even be able to contribute financially to some of the household expenses, like buying groceries or covering some of your utility bills.
Cons of Moving Your Senior Loved One into Your Home
Living with your parent or senior loved one can complicate financial matters. In the same way that many roommates face conflict over expenses, you and your parent can run into the same issues. From doctor’s bills to the grocery budget, it’s important that you discuss who will be responsible for which expenses. To avoid any conflict, you should set expectations with your parent regarding all the regular expenses that can arise.
Once your parent moves in with you, they become your full-time responsibility. When they lived in their own home, it was easier to split care responsibilities with your siblings or other family members. This becomes more complicated when your parent lives in your home. Your siblings aren’t likely to come spend the night to provide around-the-clock care if your parent needs it. You’ll be expected to do that, even if you have work the next morning. Also, other family members might not feel comfortable just dropping by your house any time they want to visit with or care for your parent.
You have to think about the times when you aren’t able to be at home with your parent, too. When you have work, your kids have sports or social engagements, or you have to go out of town, you may have to hire a professional caregiver. This is an added expense to consider unless you have other family members willing to chip in on a regular basis. In fact, having your parent move in with you because you don’t want them to be lonely may actually be counterintuitive if you’re never home to spend time with them.
Also, there may come a time when your parent is no longer able to make decisions for themselves or they need constant care. Before that happens, you need to talk to them about who should have Power of Attorney to act in their best interests. If they’re living with you, you’ll probably be the most obvious candidate to carry out their wishes.
Although having your parent live with you can increase the amount of time you see each other, you need to think about whether or not this amount will be enough to provide the care they need. Between your professional and parenting responsibilities, you may not be available to provide the level of care your parent truly requires.
Different Family Dynamic
While you may feel that moving in with you is in the best interest of your parent, you need to think about what’s in the best interest of your entire family, including your spouse and children. Permanently adding a family member to your household can change your entire family dynamic. Living together in close quarters has the potential to damage your relationship with your parent, your relationship with your spouse, or the relationship your spouse and children have with your senior loved one.
It’s important to remember that your senior loved one is an adult, too, who has been running their own household likely since before you were born. They may not easily give up their way of doing things to accommodate how you like to do things. This can add stress and conflict in your household. Different personalities can also be a source of conflict, too. You and your parent may get along perfectly when you’re only visiting them for a few hours each week. It might be more difficult to keep the peace when you’re together every single day.
Bringing another adult into your home also limits your privacy. Topics that you and your spouse may have felt comfortable discussing freely in the past, like politics or finances, might be uncomfortable now that your parent is under the same roof.
You also need to think practically about the space you’ll be losing, too. You may think you have room for your parent in your home, but there are probably many pieces of furniture or possessions that your parent doesn’t want to give up. It would be unfair for your parent to uproot their life and also have to give up some of their prized possessions. Do you have room for those items in your home, too?
The way you interact now – as parent and child – will fundamentally change when you become the caregiver and they are the patient. You may find it difficult to get your parent to heed your advice or defer to your opinion.
Finally, if your parent moves into your home, their safety may be at risk. Most homes aren't handicapped accessible, making it unsafe for your parent to live in your home until it is properly equipped for a full-time senior resident.
The first thing you should consider is where in your home your parent will live. A first-floor bedroom is the safest option. Constantly going up and down the stairs can pose a big risk for seniors. Then, you need to consider which bathroom in your home is best for their needs. Make sure they have access to a close bathroom, preferably one with a walk-in shower.
Physical changes will need to be made to your home to ensure it’s livable and safe for your parent. This could mean adding more handles, updating your bathroom to be handicap friendly, or adding ramps. These expenses can pile up, and you should talk to your parent before they move in about what they need and who will pay for it.
While you may like the idea of your parent or senior loved one moving in with you, this isn’t always the best choice for your family. You and your parent both may grow to resent this arrangement.
Before your loved one moves into your home, you should think about what the best senior living option is for their needs. This may be an assisted living community, where they can have around-the-clock care and you don’t have to worry about their safety. Your parent will also have a built-in community of other seniors to interact with, so you don’t have to worry that they’ll be lonely. Make sure to tour an assisted living community before you make any decisions, so you know what options are available to your family.
Will you be touring assisted living communities soon? Use this guide to help you evaluate your options.
About Elizabeth Bemis
In 1998, I drove past an assisted living community construction site, learned that it was part of United Methodist Homes and realized the next stop on my professional journey was to work for a mission driven organization. Soon after, I joined the team as Executive Director of our Middlewoods of Farmington community and later served as Regional Manager for the Middlewoods properties before accepting my current role as Vice President of Marketing, Promotions, and Assisted Living Operations. I enjoy spending time with my family, cooking, reading, walking, and love working alongside our staff, residents, and families to build strong communities that reflect the mission, vision, and values of United Methodist Homes.
Our Blog is a 2016 Platinum Generations Award Winner! The Generations Award is an annual international competition for excellence in senior marketing recognizing professionals who have communicated to the 50+ Mature Markets.