When an elderly loved one needs help with daily living tasks, moving that person into your home may seem like a good solution, but there’s much you need to consider.
Caring for aging parents at home could be less expensive than moving them to an assisted-care facility, but there may be great demands on your time, energy, and finances. You’ll also need to consider how other family members in your household may be affected.
For some adult children and their aging parents, an assisted living facility isn’t even an option they would ever consider. But no matter how well-intentioned your desire to house your parent through their golden years, such a living arrangement isn’t always smooth sailing. On the other hand, multigenerational living has tremendous rewards for those who are up to the task—especially for families with young children who may not otherwise have the opportunity to spend much time with their grandparents.
Here are five questions to consider doing before making a decision about caring for a loved one:
1. Will You Be Able to Provide Adequate Care?
Before you take on a caregiver role, it’s important to understand how great the loved one’s needs are, said Amanda Lambert, the author of “Aging with Care: Your Guide to Hiring and Managing Caregivers at Home.”
“The biggest challenge is the possibility the elder relative will have increasing needs that the family or home can’t easily accommodate,” she said. “If the elder has needs that exceed what the family can provide, who will pay to have a company come in to provide that care?”
As a caregiver, you and your family will be expected to tend to your aging parent’s care needs, including taking them to and from their doctor’s appointments on time, helping them dress, changing their bed linens, tending to their special dietary needs, and so on.
If your parent eventually develops a chronic illness are you prepared to provided around the clock care for their condition? If not you may have to make even more room in your home to accommodate a home health aide or nurse.
You may also need to consider adult daycare as an option if you are working full-time and are unable to leave your folks at home unattended during the day.
2. Will Your Home Need to be Modified?
If your loved one has limited mobility, you may need to make modifications to your home, said James Colozzo, author of “You Got To Do What You Got To Do,” a book about the care of elderly parents. Be sure to budget for any expenses you may incur.
Many homes have narrow hallways and don’t easily accommodate persons who use walkers or wheelchairs, he noted. A ramp might need to be built to make your home accessible. New flooring also could be required to eliminate slipping or tripping hazards. Grab bars should be installed in the main bathroom they will be using to make showering and going to the bathroom easier.
3. Does Your Loved One Want to Live With You?
Most seniors want to remain in their own homes as long as possible, said Steve Barlam, co-founder of LivHOME, a provider of senior home care services. Invitations to move in often are met with resistance. It’s important to be sure the move is the right fit for all concerned.
If sharing your home will increase a senior’s contact with people who are important to him or her, such as grandchildren, the idea of moving in may be more acceptable.
However, sometimes after a parent moves in some friction can develop between family members. On the surface it may seem like you have a good relationship with your parent, but when an aging parent moves in and you start to spend more time together, be prepared for some unresolved issues to rise to the surface.
4. Are You Prepared to Help Your Loved One Downsize?
One of the hardest tasks will be helping your loved one downsize their possessions so they can fit inside your home. You may need to participate in hard decisions about what they should bring and what should be discarded, given away, or placed in storage.
In many cases a rental storage unit can be helpful, especially if you’re pressed for time. “Then decisions about what to do with personal belongings can be decided at a later date,” said Lambert.
5. Are You Physically Up to The Task?
Colozzo says you shouldn’t underestimate the physical demands that may be involved with being a caregiver. You’ll need to decide if you can do the job yourself or if you’ll need to hire someone to help out.
Remember that the health care needs of the person you are caring for are likely to grow over time. They may suffer reduced mobility or develop new health conditions. They may have difficulty keeping up with their personal care. At a senior care facility or nursing home there is a dedicated staff to tend to their daily needs. At home, it could be just you and your family.