Your aging parent may live on his or her own, but maybe you’ve noticed that their home isn’t clean, the refrigerator is nearly empty, laundry is piling up, and bills aren’t being paid on time. More alarmingly, you notice medications are not being taken or have run out without getting refills. You find yourself bringing prepared foods over for dinners, but you’re not confident your parent can follow cooking directions. You’re worried and visit often, sometimes several times a day or week, just to keep your eye on the situation. You’ve considered a senior living community and contemplated hiring a caregiver and housekeeper, but you’re no longer sure your parent’s independence is more important than their safety.
Should your parent move in with you?
It’s not uncommon for parents to live with their children, or for children to act as their parents’ caregiver. A 2020 study by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving revealed that nearly 17 percent of adults in the U.S. care for someone aged 50 or older. Census data from 2022 reveals that about 30 percent of U.S. households are multigenerational, where parents live with their adult child.
There are many benefits to sharing your home with your aging or disabled parent. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) say that individual older adults reported higher psychological well-being when they lived with two or more generations compared to living independently or without a child or grandchild. And if you’ve been spending a significant amount of time traveling to your parent’s home and performing caregiving chores, you may save time and energy. Multigenerational living can be a great bonding experience and helps your parent avoid isolation and depression, and you can more easily stay on top of your parent’s care.
There are major questions to ask yourself before you pack up your mom’s or dad’s household belongings and welcome him or her to live in your guest room. Here are some of the most important:
Do you have the space to comfortably accommodate your parent?
- Will you have to displace another family member, or ask siblings to share a room to make space?
- Will you have to remodel the house, add a bedroom or bathroom?
- What upgrades will be necessary for your loved one’s convenience and safety (grab bars in the bathroom or a walk-in shower, for instance).
How much care will your parent need – and how much can you reasonably provide?
- Will your parent need supervision throughout the day and care overnight?
- What personal care activities can your parent do independently, and where will he or she need help?
- Are you able to provide your parent with physical help, such as lifting him or her out of a chair or helping move up and down stairs?
- Are you comfortable providing intimate personal care, such as bathing and helping with toileting?
- Does your parent need help following a medication regimen and taking the right dosage at the right times?
How will your parent fit into your household?
- Do you have a positive relationship with the parent?
- In which ways will welcoming your parent change your family’s lifestyle?
- Are all family members in agreement about the decision to move your parent?
- Have you listened to your family members’ opinions, reservations, and fears about the new living situation and worked out any potential problems?
Will your siblings or other family members help with your parent’s care?
- Are you comfortable asking siblings and other relatives for help?
- What kinds of help – transportation to doctor’s appointments, staying with your parent to give you a break, for instance – are each of your siblings or other family members comfortable offering?
- Are you open to meeting with an elder mediator or family therapist to work out issues?
- Will family members contribute to the cost of caring for your parent, or will you assume all the additional expenses – and are you prepared to take care of all financial expenses if you do not receive help?
Would another option be a better fit for their needs – and yours?
- Are there viable alternatives to moving your parent into your home?
- Can you keep your parent living independently in his or her home by taking measures such as using an online pharmacy like PersonalRX that delivers customized dose packs with medications grouped and clearly labeled for easy and safe dosing?
- Would your parent be comfortable with or prefer a home health care aide rather than relocating?
- Would siblings and other family members offer help with home care?
Deciding on the most appropriate ways to care for aging parents is a delicate topic. Carefully consider all the options available and remember to communicate early and often with other family members. These conversations can be difficult, but no single family member or couple should try to manage the complexities of elder care alone.