As our parents age, it's common for their role to change from a caregiver to someone who requires care. In situations where a parent is no longer able to live independently, it may be necessary for them to move in with their child. As the child in this scenario, this decision can be a difficult one to make, as it involves a significant shift in family dynamics and a change in lifestyle for both parties. In this blog, we'll discuss what you need to know about bringing an elderly parent into your home and providing care for them as they age.
Should Your Aging Parents Live With You?
If you're contemplating the decision to move your elderly parents or loved ones into your home, it's important to approach it with careful consideration. You often hear people say, “I promised her I’d never put her in a nursing home.” or, “Dad told me he never wanted to live in one of those places.” As long as the situation is safe for everyone involved, keeping aging parents at home is a wonderful thing to do. However, there are multiple factors that should be taken into account before making any final decisions. By taking the time to explore these questions thoroughly and any other concerns that may arise, you will be better prepared to make an informed decision that benefits everyone involved.
- Do your parents have needs that require extra care? Before your parent(s) move into your home, it's important to determine the level of support they need and what you can provide. This means being honest about your own abilities and limitations and considering the resources available to you.
- Do you get along with the parent? If you were at odds with your parent while growing up, your differences will not change dramatically. However, if you were always able to settle a conflict, that relationship should continue amicably.
- Do your children and spouse get along with the parent? Furthermore, will they be able to adjust to a new person living in the house?
- Will your parent be able to live by the rules of the house? Dynamics are shifting, which means your parent will have to follow YOUR rules now. Will they be able to make that adjustment, including adjusting their levels of independence?
- What will your loved one do when you're not there? When you or your spouse are working, and your children are at school, your parent may feel lonely. It's important to prevent isolation for their overall well-being. There are various options to consider, such as adult day care, companion care services, volunteering, and more.
Can You Afford to Take Care of Your Parent?
While it is natural to have deep feelings of love and respect for our parents, it is also important to be realistic about the financial impact their care may have on our households. According to AARP’s 2021 Caregiving Out-of-Pocket Costs Study, annual costs for caregiving tasks or supplies for an aging parent, average more than $7,200 per year. So what choices do you have? Here are some financial factors to consider with an elderly parent moving in:
Start by making it a team effort. Talk to siblings and the parent, themselves, about budgeting and expenses. Open communication and transparency will be key to establishing a successful financial strategy for the household.
Get advice from an expert. Living with children for free may affect the eligibility of elderly individuals for Medicaid or full social security benefits, as these benefits are based on income and expenses. An attorney or a social security representative can help you determine how much your parent should pay to keep their benefits.
Consider charging rent to elderly parents. To determine how much to charge, figure out how much a room would cost in a senior care facility and then factor in expenses such as groceries. Remember to work together and come to an agreement on a rate that's balanced and fair for everyone involved!
Claim your parent as dependents when filing taxes. Claiming a dependent can possibly offer tax deductions and ease your financial burden. However, it is crucial to ensure that you meet all the necessary criteria and rules before proceeding with any decisions.
Five Tips for Preparing Your Home for Elderly Parents
Preparing your home for elderly parents can be overwhelming. However, it is essential to make appropriate house adjustments to ensure their new living arrangements are comfortable, convenient, and peaceful. Here are a few things you can do when preparing a space for elderly family members in your home:
Make Your Safe and Accessible: Ensure that your home is safe and accessible for your elderly parent. Remove tripping hazards, install handrails in key areas like stairs and bathrooms, and make sure pathways are clear. Consider modifications like a walk-in shower, grab bars, and a ramp if necessary. Arrange furniture to accommodate mobility aids such as walkers or wheelchairs.
Address Health and Medical Needs: Consult with your parent's healthcare professionals to understand their specific medical needs and any required assistance with medications or treatments. Set up a dedicated area for medication management and keep a record of their medical history, appointments, and prescriptions. If necessary, enlist the help of a home healthcare professional or nurse to assist with medical care.
Develop a Daily Routine: Establish a daily routine that considers your parent's needs and preferences. A structured schedule can provide stability and reduce stress for both of you. Include time for meals, exercise, social interactions, and rest. Be flexible and make adjustments as needed, considering their health and abilities.
Seek Support and Education: Caring for an elderly parent can be emotionally and physically demanding. Look for local support groups or online communities where you can connect with others who are going through similar experiences. Consider attending workshops or seminars to learn about caregiving techniques, resources, and coping strategies.
Set Boundaries and Communicate Openly: Communication is vital in any caregiving situation. Discuss expectations, boundaries, and roles with your parent and other family members involved in the caregiving process. Be open about your feelings, concerns, and limitations. Remember that self-care is crucial! Don't hesitate to ask for help when needed and take breaks to recharge.
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