The number of elderly parents living with carers has increased over recent years. In fact, according to the National Institute of Health, a quarter of all caregivers provide disabled or elderly care in their own homes.
There are many positives to this arrangement, for example, being in close enough proximity to watch over your loved one. But it can also be expensive and intense at times. The transition of moving an elderly parent into your home will also affect all other members of the household, so it’s important to give careful consideration beforehand.
Here, we’ll cover some of the key considerations that can help you determine whether moving an elderly parent into your home is the right decision for you.
1. What type of care does your loved one need?
Considering your loved one’s needs – both physical and mental, including any illnesses or conditions, is an important first step in deciding whether to move them into your home.
For instance, if they’re reasonably healthy and fairly capable of independent living, the amount of care needed may only be minimal for your family. Plus, if you have children at home, it may allow them to spend more quality time with their grandparent.
However, if you’re considering moving a parent into your home, then it’s likely that a crisis or health condition has fuelled that possibility. In this case, it’s much more likely that you’ll be taking on significant care duties and could quickly fall into 24/7 care should their condition deteriorate.
2. What are you able to provide?
It’s not unusual for families to want – or feel obliged – to bring their elderly parents into their homes as their health declines. Caring for your loved one is a way of returning some of the love and nurture that you may have received from them over the years, and some people may see it as precious time to grasp.
However, it’s worth bearing in mind that this role reversal can be challenging. While there will undoubtedly be emotion involved, it’s important to be realistic about what the arrangement would look like too.
To begin with, it’s worth speaking with your parent’s GP about the type of care they’ll require – keeping in mind that this is likely to increase over time. You’ll also need to consider your own schedule and limits, taking into account commitments such as work and children.
For example, it’s important to consider questions like: will you have the time and energy to administer care? Is there anyone else who can help you share the load? Similarly, if your parent requires help with daily tasks like washing and dressing, are you happy to perform these duties?
Once you grasp a clear understanding of what to expect, you’ll be able to better determine whether you can reasonably provide what they need. If your parent is living with dementia, it’s worth considering whether they may benefit from specialist care. Dementia can be challenging and emotional for the person and their family members, so it’s worth considering whether this is something you can take on in your own home. For more information, you might like to have a read of our article; 6 common challenges when caring for someone with dementia and how to handle them.
3. What impact would this move have on your relationship?
It can be useful to think about the nature of your relationship with your parent and how living together could impact its dynamic. Take a look at the history of your relationship and ask yourself, could you happily live together, let alone become their carer?
If you generally don’t get on and tend to clash, then living under the same roof is unlikely to be the best solution, and may impact the quality of life for your parent(s), yourself, and the rest of your family. In this case, a live-in care service may be appropriate, as opposed to providing full-time care yourself.
4. Is your home able to accommodate their needs?
Depending on your loved one’s mental and physical needs, your home may be accommodating, or it may need some alterations.
Common considerations include wheelchair access, bathroom accessibility (for example, does your parent need grab bars?), and positioning of bedrooms in relation to staircases if mobility is a concern.
If home renovations are required to accommodate your parent’s needs, is this something that you can afford? And are these renovations that you’d be happy living with in the long term?
In some cases, especially where larger renovations are required, it can also be useful to consider how long your parent will realistically be living with you. For example, if it’s likely that they’ll need to move to a care home in the not-too-distant future, is it worth renovating your family home for that short period of time? Or would opting for a care home in the first place make it a smoother transition for everyone?
5. How would this move affect other members of your household?
Before moving a parent into your home, it’s also important to consider how this might impact everyone else living under your roof. The flow of daily activities and tasks such as using the kitchen, going to the bathroom, and watching TV can easily be interrupted when another person is added into the mix.
You might find it useful to consider questions like, do we have enough bathroom space to accommodate everyone? Will everyone have enough personal space to relax in? And are we able to carry on family life as usual?
To make sure that everyone’s feelings are accounted for, it’s worth having a family meeting. This will give everyone involved a chance to voice their opinions and any apprehensions or worries in a calm and open environment. At the end of the meeting, you’ll hopefully have a clearer idea of what things will look like and how people are feeling, which will hopefully prevent upsets further down the road.
6. How will you work out costs?
Having a family member move into your home can be expensive, unless they’re contributing financially in one way or another. Everyone’s financial circumstances will be different, but there are a few options to consider.
These include having your parent pay rent (or for the home renovations needed for them to live there), combining your resources and moving to a new property that’ll suit everyone, or calling on other family members to contribute towards the cost of care.
As with everything else, it’s best to get the budget sorted out early on to avoid any unnecessary stress or tension later on.
Moving an elderly parent with care needs into your family home is not a decision to be taken lightly. From relationship dynamics to the disruption of daily life, both becoming your parents’ carer and living within such close proximity to them can sometimes be intense.
Being at the forefront of the decision-making process can also be tricky – particularly when various family members’ feelings are on the line. Therefore, it’s important not to rush and to give careful consideration to the entire situation.
Caring for an elderly parent at home is the right decision for some people, but not for everyone. It’s entirely dependent on personal circumstances such as living space, budget, relationships, and care needs.
Remember that if it’s not the right move for you and the rest of your family, it’s important not to feel guilty about that. In many cases, other services such as live-in carers and care homes are much better suited to administer the care needed, and that’s okay.
You can find more information about the different types of care out there and how they may be able to help in our article 7 common types of care explained.