Are you planning to welcome an aging parent into your home? While you may be worried about how your immediate family will adjust, the move will most likely be toughest of all for your mom or dad. Keep in mind that giving up one’s independence is one of the most difficult decisions a person can make. And no matter how unsafe or untenable your parent’s living situation may be, it’s still home, and parting will be extremely emotional.
Here are some ideas for smoothing the transition for everyone involved:
Choose a space carefully. While you may think you picked out the perfect room for your parent, consult with him or her first to find out about any needs and preferences you haven’t even considered, such as an attached bathroom for privacy. In just about all cases, an entry-level room is a must, even for the healthiest of seniors.
Make room for what matters to them. You may think that spiffing up the room with a new flat-screen TV or walk-in closet would be something your parent would love; however, a sunny spot for your mom’s orchid collection, for example, may be way more important to her. Being able to continue the small pleasures from your parent’s former life will go a long way toward making Mom or Dad happy under your roof.
Enlist caregivers. While you may be gung-ho to step up and start caring for your parent, it may be the last thing he or she wants. For many seniors, privacy and dignity is paramount and they would much rather have an aide tend to their needs instead of their child. Discuss this openly with your parent, and make the necessary arrangements.
Be clear about money matters. Make no assumptions about the financial arrangement that’ll take place once Mom or Dad moves in. If your parent is able and willing to contribute monthly, set up a finite amount in advance. This’ll help you avoid uncomfortable discussions about paying for groceries, chipping in for rent, etc. In addition, make sure all of your parent’s personal bills are in order and scheduled for automatic payments before he or she moves in.
Remember, everyone needs space. You may be looking forward to being one big, happy family under the same roof, but remember that everyone needs private time, most of all your parent. Don’t be shy about retiring early to your room to settle in with a good book, going for a long walk or out for a date night. Mom or Dad will most likely welcome the chance to have alone time, too.