Many adults have their parents move in with them because of seniors’ declining health or financial considerations. Living with your elderly parents can be a rewarding but stressful experience, especially if you have a spouse and children, and expectations aren’t clearly communicated at the outset.
Benefits of Having Parents Move in
Senior citizens who have health problems or are at risk of falling are often much safer living with family members than alone. Having your elderly parents move in can also help the family avoid the financial burden of paying for assisted living or a nursing home. If you have young children, they and their grandparents can have opportunities to spend time together daily and forge strong bonds.
Potential Problems and How to Avoid Them
If one or both of your parents have medical issues, talk to their doctors so you understand their current and possible future needs. Be realistic about your family’s ability to care for senior citizens with serious health problems. If you can’t handle things yourselves, hire an in-home aide to care for a parent or to give you and other family members a break. If a loved one might need to move into a nursing home in the future, begin to explore your options. It could take months or years for a slot to open up. You don’t want to realize down the road that you can no longer care for a parent in your home and struggle to find other arrangements.
Be aware that your parents may resent their loss of independence or feel like a burden, especially if their health continues to decline after moving in. You also might expect them to babysit, cook or clean. Even if they’re willing, they may not be able to take on as much responsibility as you’d like. Be realistic about how much your parents can do. Look for ways to make them feel like they’re contributing to the family without making them feel overwhelmed.
Discuss issues such as how much time family members should spend together, how much privacy each person needs, how much noise is acceptable, and when and where meals should be eaten. Don’t be afraid to establish firm boundaries. As much as you love your parents, you have the right to set the rules in your own home.
If you have any concerns, discuss them. Don’t sweep things under the rug and hope they’ll get better. Different people may simply have different expectations, and you might be able to work things out with a brief conversation and avoid tension.
Discuss All Aspects of Living Together Openly and Honestly
Blending several generations in one household is a major adjustment for everyone. Be sure that you are up to the challenge of caring for elderly parents, get help if necessary and discuss any issues that arise. People often harbor resentment because of differing expectations that were never clearly communicated. Address any problems that come up directly and quickly to avoid conflict.