Advice for When Your Elderly Parents Move in With Your Family
One of the most pivotal points in life comes when a decision has to be made about our aging parents and their living situation. In many cases, one parent has passed away and the other is left living alone - sometimes for the first time in decades - and loneliness sets in. This can quickly lead to depression and possible health issues. Sometimes an elderly parent is in poor health and unable to properly care for themselves and their home on their own. It may be time to give serious consideration to moving your elderly parent(s) into your home to live with you and your family.
IS IT THE RIGHT DECISION?
Moving your parents in with your family is a big decision, one that will affect everyone in the household. It should be discussed with everyone involved, especially your parents. It is important to take their wishes into consideration. Remember, your parents have very likely been living on their own for most of their lives and even though they love you, giving up their independence is going to be a major change for them. It may not be easy.
Make sure you talk this over with everyone in your family so that everyone is on the same page and understands that the new household composition is going to be a transition for everyone. Give each person a chance to ask questions and express their feelings. Discuss any concerns they may have. The more at ease everyone is with the new arrangement, the happier your new household will be.
HOW CAN I MAKE THE MOVE EASY ON MY PARENTS?
Try to put yourself in your parents' shoes. Imagine having to give up your home and all the memories it holds. That would be traumatic for anyone. You will want to do everything you possibly can to help them feel at ease and be as happy as possible about the move.
Start the process of planning to move your parents early. The more time you have to prepare everyone, the more likely it will be that the process doesn’t become overwhelming. Remember, the process of moving seniors needs additional thought and planning than a typical move.
Bring with them any items from their home that will make them more comfortable and help them to feel at home. They may wish to have their new bedroom furnished with the things they had in the bedroom in their home. This may require moving furnishings you already have in their new room, but it can make all the difference in helping them to settle in and be happy.
It is also important to let your parents know that they are very much loved and welcome in your home and that everyone is looking forward to having them there. One of the most common problems arises when the new member of the household feels as if they are a burden or are unwanted in the home. Again, put yourself in their position and imagine how you might feel. Make sure to include them in family plans. They may not always want to join in (remember, they will want to have some privacy, especially if they have been accustomed to living alone, but always extend the invitation regardless) so that they don't feel left out altogether.
Speaking of privacy, stress to all members of the household the importance of respecting your parents' privacy. If it is both of your parents who have moved in, they will still wish to enjoy private time alone together as a couple. Remind family members to knock on doors and wait for a response before entering a room occupied by your parent(s). Your new household member must be shown respect in order for them to feel truly at home and comfortable.
Take the time to talk to your parents about the new arrangement, especially during the first few months. Let them know how important their happiness and comfort are to you and ask if there is anything you can do to make them happier. Encourage open communication and let them know you are always available to talk about anything they want to discuss.
WHAT BOUNDARIES/RULES SHOULD BE SET?
Other than the points already mentioned, there may be other specific things that need to be addressed in order for everyone in the home to get along peacefully. Adding an additional household member does bring about a change in the dynamic of the home, so there are things that may need to be specified and outlined clearly.
For example, if your household is a nonsmoking one and your parents have smoked all their lives, you cannot reasonably expect them to just stop smoking altogether. You may have to reach a compromise. Perhaps they could smoke in their bedroom with a smokeless ashtray or an open window. Or you may want them to smoke outside only. Subjects like this can be tricky, and thus should be discussed and agreed upon from the very beginning of the arrangement.
If your home is full of activity and noise, it may be necessary to tone things down a bit in the event an elderly or ill parent has moved in. Children may need to be quiet during specific times so that your parent can get adequate rest. If there is only one television and everyone has their favorite shows they watch regularly, maybe your parent would like to have a television of their own in their room. However, even if they have their own television, scheduling a family movie night is a good idea so that the whole family can get together and enjoy spending quality time together. Be sure and include your parents in the movie-choosing process. Perhaps everyone can take turns choosing the movie each week. Paying attention to the small details from the start can prevent them from becoming bigger issues later on.