Articles of Interest

Should Your Elder Live With You?

We all have listened to lectures and read countless articles on the pros and cons of having a parent come and live with us, especially after mom’s or dad’s physical or mental condition requires that he/she can no longer be left alone. To intellectualize such a monumental move is only part of the decision making process. In this article entitled, “9 Tips to Decide If Your Elderly Parent Can and Should Live with You”, the author moves past some of the traditional decision making steps and personalizes some of the formally intellectualized decisions. 

First, it is important to understand that your parent’s personality traits will only increase when you live together. That halo that you see when mom or dad is lying in the hospital bed after major surgery and are helpless and frail, will melt away when you are both now living together. Granted, your parent may become even nicer, but mom or dad may also become impossible to live with. So take off the halo and see the “real” parent before making a decision about moving them into your home.

A second component to consider: It’s never easy to deal effectively with money between relatives. This is why professional financial experts always suggest keeping monetary affairs separate from family affairs. However, when you are thinking about having a parent move in with you, it would be well advised to have a serious discussion about the monetary aspect of having he/she live with you. For example, consider discussing the cost of things like food, utilities, clothing, medicines, doctor’s bills and rent. A frank, perhaps even difficult discussion should make this transition much more palatable. 

The question of who will care for mom or dad should also be visited. Sometimes you may have a couple of siblings in the area allowing for some shared responsibilities. At other times, it may be your sole responsibility to manage the care of mom or dad (or both); and if you work that may require the use of an outside agency, such as Visiting Angels, to assist with care provisions. Plan this in advance and it will take the pressure off of both you and your parent.

Another topic to address is your parent’s safety. Sure, all of us think our home is safe, but the fact is that most houses are not physically equipped for senior living; especially if that person requires a first floor bedroom and bath of their own. 

So, what is the best way to handle the transition of having another full-time person living in your house? Will you add an addition to your house? Who will pay for what? How can you reconfigure your existing living space to accommodate another person or two? Will your septic system be able to handle the extra load? Will your water well handle the extra demand? Okay, let’s breathe together…The questions do seem endless, but honestly need to be addressed prior to a parent moving into your home.

Many situations can be handled for a short duration of time … yet how long is too long? Start with a thorough understanding of the situation you are getting yourself into with regard to the length of commitment to providing shelter and care for your parent. This is vital for your financial and mental health. You want to avoid getting to your breaking point. One way to prevent that breaking point from emerging is to fully understand your needs and plan to make sure they are met.

A final, but salient point is the need to be able to make decisions, if and when, your parent is not able to make decisions for himself/herself. Although none of us want to imagine our parent being so incapacitated that he/she cannot think or act in his/her own best interests, there may come a time when that actually does occur and you will be left powerless. With that in mind, it would be wise to sit down with your parent and decide who will have Power of Attorney (medical and financial) if and when your parent becomes incapacitated. It may seem needless at this point in time, but some decisions are best made well in advance of the actual need; thus eliminating any further stress if and when the need arises.

Of course there are other topics that you may want to broach with your parent prior to deciding if he/she should live with you; such as having visitors stopping by or spending the night. However, articulating the points in this article should give you a good handle on the areas that need to be addressed before deciding on having a parent move in with you.

Each Visiting Angels agency is a franchise that is independently owned and operated. The Franchisor, Living Assistance Services Inc., does not control or manage the day to day business operations of any Visiting Angels franchised agency.