Top Tips for How to Have a Great Experience Living with Elderly Parents
Are you wondering how to deal with elderly parents living with you?
Are you caring for an elderly parent in your home?
Are unsure what to do when your parents can’t live alone anymore?
If you’re considering caring for your aging parents in your home, you’re not alone. A study from Boston College found that about 17% of adult children care for their parents at some point.
As adults get older, they often look to their adult children (or other family members) for help. One way adult children may provide support is by letting their parents move in with them.
Even though living with elderly parents can be a challenge, it can also be a wonderful experience when done well.
In this article, we’ll be taking an honest look at how to cope well with elderly parents moving in with you. We’ll be sharing:
- The benefits of living together with aging parents
- The challenges of caring for an elderly parent in your home
- Top tips for living together well
- Options for additional help caring for your loved one
Read on to learn all about living with elderly parents well.
What to Do When Parents Can’t Live Alone
Most adults want to age comfortably in a familiar place and don’t want to move into a nursing home or assisted living facility. However, elderly adults often need increasing amounts of assistance as their lives go on.
So, what can adult children do when their parents can’t live alone?
One solution is for aging parents to move in with their adult children. This arrangement has the potential to be wonderful, with benefits for everyone. However, it can also involve some challenges.
Here are some of the benefits and challenges of caring for an elderly parent in your home.
Benefits of Living with your Elderly Parents
When it comes to living with your aging parents, there are many benefits. Three of the top benefits include:
- Minimizing expenses
- Convenience of care
- Mutual assistance
Here’s a quick look at these pros in more detail.
One potential benefit of living with your aging parents is minimizing expenses.
Not only does combining households avoid the potential expense of residential elder care facilities, living together can be more financially efficient than maintaining two separate houses.
Convenience of Care
Another big benefit of caring for an elderly parent in your home is the convenience of not needing to commute back and forth to help out. Instead of a 15-minute drive to mom’s house to check on her, mom could be two rooms over.
This benefit is especially significant if you and your parents live far from each other.
Additionally, aging parents can sometimes offer help to their adult children. Elderly parents can assist with light chores around the house or provide babysitting services for you and your spouse.
But perhaps best of all, living together provides a special opportunity for aging parents and adult children (and grandchildren) to have a closer relationship during these later years of life.
Challenges of Caring for Parents in Your Home
It will come as no surprise that living with elderly parents can be difficult. There are certain challenges you’ll need to navigate in order to have a positive experience.
Some of these challenges may include dealing with:
- The loss of privacy at home
- An impact on the adult child’s marriage
- Aspects of caregiving you may not be comfortable with
- Feelings of obligation / guilt / resentment
- The child/parent relationship in the adult child’s home
Some other issues that may arise are:
- What if it’s more work than expected?
- How to adapt to changing needs?
- How to handle elderly parents with dementia?
All these situations and challenges are a normal part of the picture when caring for parents in your home. However, these difficulties can be anticipated and overcome in a way that proves positive for everyone.
4 Tips for How to Deal with Elderly Parents Living With You
Are you thinking about living with your aging parents but unsure how to cope with elderly parents moving in?
Fortunately, having a positive experience living with elderly parents is totally possible.
Here are four expert tips for setting yourself up for success when caring for parents in your home.
1. Establish Realistic Care Expectations
The first thing you can do when caring for an elderly parent in your home is to assess the level of daily care your parents need in order to continue living healthily and happily.
Some likely examples of care that your parents may require include:
- Safety/accessibility adjustments to the house
- Help to prepare food
- Assistance keeping track of medications
- Aid dressing/bathing
- Transportation to/from doctor’s appointments and outside activities
- Support moving about the house
- Encouragement to stay physically/mentally active
- Someone to be home in case of an emergency etc
Once you’ve finished the assessment, consider and state clearly which kinds of help you can and cannot provide. This will reveal gaps in the level of care you can reasonably provide your loved one.
Discovering gaps in care might seem like a bad thing, but it’s actually very important. Identifying care gaps allows you to start making alternative care arrangements to meet these needs.
Be honest with yourself about what care you can and can’t provide. . You don’t have any obligation or responsibility to agree to more than you can handle.
2. Set Boundaries
Boundaries are important in all relationships, but certain boundaries will significantly help when considering how to cope with elderly parents moving in.
Here are three important boundaries to put in place for living with aging parents.
Maintain an Adult Relationship
First, maintain an adult relationship, even though they are your parents.
Some practical examples for ensuring an adult relationship are:
- Preserving your right to privacy (e.g., you don’t have to answer questions about your phone calls or private conversations with other family members, etc.)
- Scheduling and following through on independent plans
- Making your own decisions without their permission
It’s important to respect your parents, but it’s also necessary for you to maintain your own adult independence.
Protect Your Relationship With Your Spouse
Secondly, it’s vital to protect and prioritize time with your spouse.
A 300 person study found that 80% of marriages were negatively impacted by having parents move in. You can Avoid becoming part of this statistic by taking proactive steps to strengthen your marriage, like going on a date once a week or setting aside 10-20 minutes every night to connect about your day.
The presence of an aging parent in the home will naturally encroach on the amount of quality alone time available at home, but there are ways to continue prioritizing your spouse.
Preserve Your Lifestyle
Lastly, it is valuable to prioritize living the same lifestyle you lived before your parents moved in—don’t put your life on hold.
Your active lifestyle will:
- Help your parents stay active
- Act as a self-care opportunity for you
- Prevent you from becoming resentful
Maintaining your previous lifestyle will provide benefits for you and your parents.
3. Think Ahead
When it comes to caring for an elderly parent in your home, a little preparation can go a long way. You’ll want to spend some time thinking about how to set yourself and your loved one up for success.
Here are some things you may want to consider before (or during) the process of living with elderly parents:
- Talking with an elder care lawyer to make sure your parents’ finances are in order
- Getting long term care insurance before needing expensive end-of-life care
- Knowing your options regarding elder care alternatives
- Putting safety precautions into place (e.g., installing railings and removing trip hazards)
- Organizing a list of your parents’ doctors and medications
- Considering creative activities for homebound adults to keep your parents active
- Finding a personal therapist or family counselor to support you and your family through the ups and downs
In addition to practical preparations, it’s also important to prepare for the emotional realities that may come with caring for a parent in your home. Give yourself permission to admit uncomfortable feelings such as disappointment, frustration, and grief. Those kinds of feelings are normal, and they don’t negate the authenticity and depth of your love for your parents.
4. Get Help: Part-time or Full-time In-home Caregivers
Just because you and your parents share an address, doesn’t mean that you’re responsible to meet all their needs yourself. As your parents’ needs change over time, it’s likely that their care needs will go beyond what a family member can provide.
Private in-home caregivers can provide supplemental assistance to make living with your elderly parents sustainable and positive.
Private in-home caregivers can help with:
- Personal body care (bathing, dressing)
- Medication reminders
- Overnight supervision in case of emergencies/wandering
Private caregivers can be hired by the hour, so they’re flexible and cost-effective to match your situation. For example, respite care is a service where a caregiver comes for 4 hours at a time to give family caregivers a break. While the respite caregiver spends time with your loved one, you can tend to yourself and other personal matters.
Caregiver assistance is also a great option if you’re unsure how to handle elderly parents with dementia. In-home caregivers have specific memory care training and can be hired to help with all aspects of dementia care.
Regardless of your parents’ care needs, you don’t have to meet them alone. Hiring a private in-home caregiver, either part-time or full-time, is a great option for supplemental care.
Expert Help for those Living with Aging Parents
As parents age, many family caregivers consider living together with their elderly parents. However, caring for your parents in your home comes with both benefits and challenges.
Some of the benefits of living with elderly parents include:
- Minimized expenses
- Greater convenience
- Opportunity for a closer relationship
On the other hand, some of the challenges of living together include:
- Loss of privacy
- Impact on the adult child’s marriage
- Feelings of obligation/resentment
In order to mitigate these challenges and have a positive experience caring for an elderly parent in your home, some tips for how to deal with elderly parents living with you are:
- Establish realistic care expectations
- Set boundaries
- Think ahead
- Get expert help
If you’re still not sure what to do when your parents can’t live alone, we’re here to help.
Here at Commonwise Home Care, we offer professional in-home care services to elderly adults. Whether you’re looking for respite care, 24-hour care, or dementia care, we’ve got a care solution for you. We want you to have a great experience living with your elderly parents, and our friendly, professional staff is ready to walk alongside you.
If you live in Virginia or South Carolina, give us a call to explore how we can help you and your aging loved one.