If you’re in charge of caring for aging parents, you’ve probably started to consider all the different ways to help your senior live a better, easier life. From in-home senior care to community helpers, there are a ton of different options to choose from that can help your senior live a happy, active life in their own home. But what happens when it’s just not enough? If you find yourself in a position of wanting to give your aging parent more attentive care but can’t quite afford an in-home facility, you may have started to think about bringing your parent to live with you. This is a huge step and comes with a lot of stress and baggage. It can also, however, come with a lot of joy. If you’re thinking about moving your parents in to live with you, here are a few ways to make the process easy and stress-free.
1. Make Your Home Senior-Friendly
Before your parent steps one foot in your home, you need to make sure that you’ve gotten rid of any potential obstructions or hazards through “senior-proofing.” Depending on your senior’s needs and mobility, you’ll want to install the right tools for the job before the move-in day. If you need to replace a few stairways with ramps and set up an emergency medical system, make sure that’s done well in advance. Take the time to check for slippery surfaces in the bathroom or kitchen, and make sure your chairs are easy for your parent to get in and out of without help. If your parent walks with a walker, make sure you don’t have any rugs or shifting surfaces lying around. It’s also good to remember that your parent will need to spend a bit of time getting used to their new setup, so keep asking them for the first few months if there’s anything you can do around the house to make it more accessible and comfortable for them.
2. Talk About It
Whether you live alone or with a family, you need to make sure that everyone is ready for this change. That means a lot of talking. Before your parent comes to stay, set aside some time to talk to your kids about what it means to have their grandparent stay with them. Explain that they might be expected to help out more and to be a bit more mindful of keeping your home senior-proof. If you’ve made the decision along with other members of your family, such as siblings or uncles and aunts, talk to them and make clear what it is that you might need from them in the next few months, whether in terms of emotional support or help with routine adjustments. Most importantly, talk to your parent and encourage them to be open about their feelings surrounding the move. Moving house can be scary as a senior, even if you’re already familiar with the space. Don’t shy away from talking about uncomfortable feelings and topics: It’s better to get it out early than to wait for it to emerge later on.
3. Create “Togetherness” Time
In addition to talking to your family, you’re going to need to set up a support network to help you through the first few months of adjustment. Whether you want family members to stop by and offer support by cooking and hanging out or if you need help with taking your parent to doctor’s appointments, reach out beforehand to make sure everything is set up. You’ll also want to make sure you take the time to actually be with your parent. Moving someone in can end up creating a lot more awkwardness and isolation than you’d expect if you don’t set aside time to do activities with your parent, whether with the whole family or one-on-one. Even if you set aside time in the morning to eat breakfast and check in with your parent, you’ll be setting up a nice ritual for the two of you to share. Keep checking in with your parent through the first few weeks and make sure they’re not feeling isolated, lonely, or ignored. Explain that even though you have your own life, they are your top priority and you never want to make them feel left out.
4. Encourage Independence
Your parent had their own life before they moved in, and they should continue to keep up those same commitments and traditions. Encourage your parent to stay social and engaged with their community. Even if you have to drive them to their destination each time, it’s still important that they focus on living a full, happy, independent life while under your roof.