Should an Elderly Loved One Move in With You?
We are a country in which it has been common for family members to move in together. But, this decades-old practice is waning. Outstanding pressures on adult children to raise their own families in a complex world calls upon us to look at new arrangements.
While having a loved one move into your home is still a good option for some, multi-generational living can have a detrimental impact on all involved. A number of factors should be examined.
Past and Future Relationships
Avoid potential issues when a parent moves in by reflecting on the relationship that each member in the home has with the elderly relative. For example, if your spouse has not enjoyed a good relationship with your Mother, chances are this won’t improve after a move-in. The same would be true if you had a contentious relationship with your parent. Even with the best intentions, this arrangement will likely fail. Even if your family dynamic is positive, anticipate potential changes in the relationship should a parent move in.
Could this affect your marriage?
How will the elder respond to a house full of active children? Is your parent in charge of the children when you are away, or would you view the children as caregivers in this instance? Everyone involved needs a realistic expectation of how an elderly loved one moving in will affect the entire family.
Elderly loved ones may elect to move in with you due to financial strain, death of a spouse or declining health, among others. Regardless of the reason, perform a carefully analyzed examination of the elder’s medical condition and needs. In many cases, a move may seem perfect at first only to discover later that the elder’s health and abilities to perform ADL’s (Activities of Daily Living). Having a clear picture of the elder’s needs helps you to better understand how the move will affect you and your family
Most of us become caregivers because we want to help our loved ones. Be aware that this solution may last years. A move by your elder to your home could be financially beneficial for all involved, but remember that you will incur added expenses for food and utilities. You may even be required to make expensive home modifications, not to mention expenses for medications and supplies, trips to the doctor and even adding in-home care. Determine the potential increase in expenses and who will pay for what and how much, your family or the elder. You may consult an attorney to draw up a financial agreement. In addition, if you are providing hands-on care, you may also wish to invoke an agreement. Doing so may protect your ability to apply and receive Medicaid or other assistance.
Everyone in your family may agree to this new living arrangement, but you still need to talk specifics. How long will this living situation last? Is this temporary? What instances may cause this arrangement to change? Deterioration in the marriage, a sick child or loss of work could drastically alter your original thoughts about such a living situation. Consider every possibility. Make sure everyone discusses and plans for the best case and worst case of an elderly loved one moving in. Be realistic about a possible future need for the elder to move to a professional community better equipped to care for their health. These can be difficult discussions, but are worthwhile in the end.
Making the Decision
If you decide to move your elderly loved one into your home, regularly discuss how this affects each member of the household. Circumstances can change quickly, so be prepared to address issues head-on and in a timely manner. If family members disagree about such a move, try outside and educational resources to help you form a solution. Group therapy might be in order. You may wish to have your elderly loved one assessed by a geriatrician who can better speak to which setting is best for the elder – your home or a nearby community. Local and online support groups exist that can help your family cope with the situation.
In summation, plan ahead. But, know that your intended solution may not be what you expected. Being realistic about multi-generational living ensures that everyone is better able to adjust to the new living situation.