My aunt recently lost her husband of over 50 years. She is someone I have always been close to and enjoyed spending time with. I am considering inviting her to move in with me. I am a retiree living alone, and my house has more than enough space. I think my aunt would be receptive to the idea.
While she does not need a lot of care right now, I do not think she is entirely safe living alone in her old house. It has a lot of stairs and an old bathroom that I think might become a safety risk before long.
I want to make sure I carefully think this through before I speak with her. What advice can you offer on the pros and cons of this decision?
The Positive Impact of Caregiving
First, I would like to extend my sincere condolences on the loss of your uncle. I am sure these are difficult times for you and your aunt. Figuring out what is next for her is probably weighing heavily on your mind, especially since it does not seem like you are entirely sure she is safe living on her own.
There are many positives to caring for a loved one:
- A sense of purpose and fulfillment in your day.
- Companionship and bonding time with someone dear.
- Peace of mind knowing your aunt is safe and cared for.
- The feeling that you are giving back to someone who has played an important role in your life.
These are all very powerful reasons to extend an invitation to your aunt to move in with you. But, as you mentioned, there are also a few additional factors it is important to take in to consideration as you are mulling over this decision:
- Will your home be a safe environment? If not, are you willing and able to make modifications to improve safety, such as installing grab bars in the bathroom and a step-in shower?
- Can your aunt help with the increased expenses of having a second person living in your home? If not, are you able to absorb them?
- Will you be okay with the loss of privacy that having a senior live with you full-time will likely create?
- Is your aunt comfortable being open and honest with you about her feelings and what she needs?
- Do you feel comfortable caring for her physical and emotional needs?
- Are other family members or friends available to help at times you cannot be at home or if you are sick?
- Since you’ve recently retired, how would moving your aunt in with you impact your retirement goals and dreams?
- Do you have a realistic idea about what tasks your aunt needs assistance with?
- Does your aunt have any chronic health conditions you will need to learn how to manage?
It might help if you invite your aunt to stay with you on a short-term basis while she is grieving. Do not say this will be a permanent move—just explain to her that you do not want her to be alone right now. This can be a great way to see how the two of you manage together.
My final tip is to remember that connecting with an in-home caregiver might be another option whether your aunt lives with you or stays in her own home. The caregiver can provide support with personal care, light housekeeping, and other daily tasks. It can help lighten the load for both of you!
I am sending my best wishes out to you and your aunt, Justine.