One out of every four caregivers lives with an elderly or disabled relative that they care for. While this situation is common and often anticipated, the transition is not at all easy: the elderly parent loses their freedom and independence, and you and your kids incur financial costs, lose much of your privacy and free time, and more.
There are also benefits, of course: you can monitor your elderly parent, your children can get to know them on a much deeper level, and depending on their health they might be able to help around the house and with your kids.
Regardless of how the transition goes, it’s important that you’re prepared for the change. Here are five things to consider before you move an elderly parent into your home.
The financial costs of having someone else in your home
One of the biggest disruptions can be with your finances. Sometimes the elderly parent has the resources to help provide for their care, but sometimes they don’t. You may need elder care supplies and caregiver products such as adult diapers, special phones, utensils, and more. Home care medical equipment such as special beds and mattresses, chair raisers, and grab rails may be necessary. You might also need to make changes to your home such installing electric stair lifts, creating wheelchair access, and adding special shower doors. What’s more, if their age or condition makes eating certain foods difficult, you may also have to buy different food for them. All of his can be pricy—and stressful.
Less privacy for everyone in the family
When an elderly parent moves into your home, you, your spouse, your kids, and the older adult all suddenly have less privacy and personal space. The degree that this affects everyone depends on your family members’ personalities, the size of your home, and several other factors.
Loss of free time and taking time out of your schedule to cater to your parents
Not only do you lose some of your privacy, but caring for an older adult often involves a great deal of time—time that you are used to spending doing your own thing. You’ll probably have to shuttle them to and from appointments and run various errands with them. This can be time-consuming and create tension.
Disruption of the normal way of life in and around your home
Everyone in the new household is used to their own routine. You get up at 7:00, you make coffee, you drive the kids to school, you start making dinner around 6:00. With the addition of an elderly parent, this changes. Perhaps you have to get up earlier to help them get into the shower or start making dinner at 5:30 instead of 6:00. These changes may be small, but they can throw people and things off enough to cause stress.
Increased tension between family members
Altered routines; less privacy, space, and time; and a financial burden inevitably lead to increased stress for all involved. There may be tension between the elderly parent and the adult child, the adult child and their spouse, or the adult child and their children.
It’s critical that everyone in the family understands that there will be changes and generally knows what to expect, although you won’t be able to know exactly how everything will go until the older adult actually moves in.