Taking care of an elderly parent takes careful planning ahead of time with the entire immediate family aware of the pending situation. There are many things to consider before making your final decision to move a parent into your home, such as the amount of space available, the overall health of your parent, and finances. Also if you have young children that you care for all day you need to decide whether or not you have the extra time to take care of both your children and an elderly parent.
If you have a good relationship, early on everything may seem to run smoothly. However, as time goes on you, your family and your parent will need space to have some time to themselves. An extra room with a place for a television and a chair will allow your parent to retreat to this space when they want some privacy.
Even if your parent is capable of getting around on their own and in fairly good health, the daily use of things like stairs can take a toll on their body. Luckily, there are several relatively easy modifications you can make prior to their move-in date, to make their life easier. For instance, a stair-lift is something that you can have installed rather quickly and without a large out-of-pocket expense. If your parent has difficulty remaining steady on their feet or walking, handrails installed along hallway walls and grab bars installed in the tub and the shower will allow them to walk and lower themselves with confidence. In the case of a wheel-bound or walker-bound parent widening doorways and moving furnishings away from openings in rooms will make it easier to enter and exit.
How Much Time Do You Have to Offer
Along with having adequate space and a friendly environment, you will need to have time to tend to their personal needs. This may include things such as doctor’s appointments, trips to the pharmacy for medications, events at the senior center, and even bathing. If you have younger children involved in school activities, finding additional time may be challenging. The best thing to do is to keep track or personal family appointments and events as well as the needs of your elderly parent. Placing something like a dry-erase calendar board on a wall in the kitchen will give you a visual of the days in advance. This way if an appointment conflict with another, you have time to reschedule.
The most important part of the decision should focus on your relationship. If you have a good one, you will still have conflict and times of disagreement from time to time, but each of you will get over it. However, if your relationship is not strong enough and you are basically taking the parent in to live with you out of guilt the situation may get hard to handle quickly. A parent with a strong personality can become demanding and opinionated putting you in an awkward position in front of your spouse, as well as your children.
Meeting with the Family
Moving an elderly parent into your home will affect every member of the immediate family. If you have young children they will need your attention often and giving up the time to care for your parent can hurt your child-adult relationship before it gets a chance to develop. On the flip side, having a parent that’s still able can free up time with the children and allow you and your spouse to enjoy an occasional evening out.
A parent created you and molded you into the fine person you are now. In their hour of need, it’s only natural that a child would like to return the favor and provide care. Just make sure to weigh the pros and the cons ahead of time and discuss the matter at great lengths with your family.