There are a variety of reasons for which elderly parents move in with their children. Some seniors simply can’t afford to live on their own, while others require a level of care they couldn’t receive while living independently. Regardless of why an elderly parent will soon be moving in with you, there are a number of steps you’ll need to take in preparation for their arrival. While prepping a home for a senior citizen may strike you as a daunting task, the process doesn’t have to be difficult, costly or time-consuming.
Prepare a Downstairs Bedroom
If your parent has problems with stairs, it’s recommended that you prepare a downstairs bedroom for them. This will help ensure that they spend as little time climbing and descending stairs as possible, thereby diminishing their risk of suffering a nasty fall. If you don’t currently have any dedicated downstairs bedrooms, consider clearing out another room on this floor and converting it into a bedroom for your parent. This may mean having to find storage solutions for the various items you moved out of the room, but this minor inconvenience is a small price to pay for your parent’s safety.
In addition to a downstairs bedroom, providing your parent with an easy-to-access downstairs bathroom can help provide both of you with tremendous peace of mind. This will dramatically reduce the risk of overnight falls and ensure that your parent never has to choose between using the bathroom and risking injury. Furthermore, this bathroom should be outfitted with guard rails, shower seats and senior-friendly toilet seats. When setting out to create safe bathrooms for the elderly, make sure to cover every possible base.
Install a Stairlift
If your downstairs lacks any bedrooms – or rooms that could be repurposed into bedrooms – you may have no choice but to give your parent a room upstairs. If this describes your situation, look into having a stairlift installed, as this will provide your parent with a relatively safe way to ascend and descend your staircase. Although stairlifts may seem pricey, they’re not prohibitively expensive, and some insurance plans will cover the cost of both the lift and the installation.
Respect Your Parent’s Privacy
Transitioning from living alone to being part of a bustling household isn’t easy. Prior to coming to live with you, your parent had their own daily schedule and way of doing things, and it’s important for your family to respect that. It will likely take your parent some time to adjust to the various rhythms and eccentricities of your household, and expecting them to simply go with the flow is unreasonable. For example, if you have small children, encourage them to give Grandma or Grandpa some space if they sense that he or she wants some time alone.
Furthermore, if your parent has an active social life, make an effort to avoid butting in unless absolutely necessary. If they want you to know about their friends and the things they do together, they’ll tell you.
Let Them Know This is Their Home, Too
Moving in with one’s child can be extremely emasculating for many seniors. Since they had spent years raising these now-adult children, some seniors can’t help but feel that the roles have been reversed in this situation. As a result, elderly parents will often feel like a burden on their families and view themselves as unwanted guests. You can help drive home the point that your parent is welcome in your home by giving them a say in household decisions, incorporating some of their favorite furniture in your home décor and regarding them as equals. It’s important for your parent to realize that they’re not just a long-term guest – but rather a full-fledged member of the household.
Welcoming an elderly parent into your home represents an adjustment for every member of your household. Although this type of arrangement can occasionally go south, there are numerous measures you can take to prevent this from coming to pass. By taking the time to make your parent feel safe and wanted, you can set the stage for many years of conflict-free cohabitation. In the interest of helping this transition go off as smoothly as possible, put the tips discussed above to good use.