Planning Advice for Taking Care of a Senior in Your Home
Opening your house for a parent or other loved one to stay with you either short-term or long-term is a big decision and should be well thought out regarding the impact and changes that will be necessary.
It should be established upfront such things as sharing of the costs, such as utilities, groceries, etc., and sharing of any household duties if possible. You should discuss such things as doctor appointments and whether escorting or transportation is necessary, and if so, they should be respectful of your schedule when setting appointments. Mutual respect will ensure that necessary boundaries are kept.
Topics to be resolved in advance of the move:
Caregiving expectations: If you have other family members that live in the area, establish some expectations of them also. This is another type of boundary which says that you are not going to shoulder the entire workload. Perhaps they can come and provide sitter service while you run errands, or even occasionally take a personal break to rejuvenate.
Create private spaces: Depending on the size and design of your home, you might need to be creative in establishing a new living quarter for your new loved one. The goal is to provide an area where your loved one will feel comfortable in having a space of their own. This can help remove any feelings of guilt they might have for “intruding” on your household.
Don't give up your life: Keep in mind that your life does not need to be put “on hold.” It will be altered, but it should not be void of things that are necessary or which bring you enjoyment. Otherwise, your emotional and spiritual health can suffer and can lead to negativity spreading into the relationship.
Avoid falling into negative childhood patterns: Remember that although you are back in the household again, everyone is now an adult, and if any parenting is necessary, there might need to be a role reversal, especially if a parent has dementia. The ease to which this new relationship is accepted may depend on the severity of the person’s dementia.
Discuss finances and budget: Whether uncomfortable or not, you need to discuss finances. For example, do you need the “guest” to contribute toward the mortgage, or utilities, or groceries? It’s best to understand what is feasible and fair for the “guest” family member to contribute before agreeing to the new arrangement, and thereby, avoid surprises which can lead to angry conversations in the future.
Recognize that although the desire of everyone might be for this to be a “forever” situation, there is no predicting on how the disease or health condition might unfold. The care needs might go beyond your family’s knowledge level or available time, or physical strength, or emotional stamina.
There might be too many, or too costly of adaptations of the house, such as wider doorways, or an elevator or ramp to get up the stairs. You need to be realistic and avoid being blocked by any feelings of guilt. It should be established that alternatives, such as a move to a community, might be necessary in the future, such as if the cost of caregivers to supplement when you need to be away at work exceeds the cost of rent plus care at a community.