As your elderly parents get older, it’s only natural that you’re going to start thinking about where they might live if they become too frail, or perhaps ill, to look after themselves. But don’t panic. There are plenty of options available, and we’ll help you learn more about these options in this article.
Residential care – which can be a good option if your parents need round-the-clock care; if they are living with more advanced stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia, for example – but it can be expensive.
Staying in their own home with the support of yourself, other family members and at-home care services, or moving into your home with you and your family.
This last option is what normally first comes to mind for most people. After all, these are the people who have raised you, loved and cared for you – and now it’s time to give something back….
“Mum/Dad will just come and live with us.” However, it’s not like bringing home a new baby – there are no celebrations, bucket-loads of advice from those who have already experienced it, or casseroles left on the doorstep when you bring home an elderly parent!
Now is not the time to let your heart overrule your head. Having your elderly parents move into your home is only a practical option if they don’t need specialist care. There are also some other things to consider before you set up the spare room.
1. Talk Things Through With Your Elderly Parents First
Your elderly parents moving in with you is a decision that has to be made together – both with your parents and with anyone else who lives in the home. It’s important to consider not just the impact it will have on you and your elderly parents, but on your children and partner.
You’ll need to talk through every ‘what if’ scenario – having a firm plan in place that everyone is aware of will lessen the trauma and stress should the worst happen in any given situation.
Don’t forget, you probably haven’t lived with your parents for 20, 30 plus years, and now there’s potentially children, a spouse, a career, and a mortgage thrown into the mix. It’s not going to be all fun and games!
It’s likely that your parents will be set in their ways with their routine – as will you be to an extent. How will that all marry together?
How will it work if you and your family all eat together at the table for dinner at 7.30pm, but your parents are used to eating in front of their favourite TV show at 5pm? Your parents like to be in bed by 9pm, but your teenagers are quite used to coming and going until gone 11pm. Sunday mornings are for lay-ins in your house….but your elderly parents like to be up by 6am, possibly with the radio on or pottering about the garden.
Even if these are all things that you feel could be compromised on, how long will it be before someone in the household becomes frustrated at the changes, and it starts to cause stress or arguments?
We all want a harmonious household, but the truth is, the more people there are in one space, the more likely it is that discord will occur.
2. Assess The Environment
Assessing the safety of your home before your elderly parents move in isn’t dissimilar to the process you have to go through when you childproof your home.
There are likely things in your home that you deal with every day without even thinking about, which could pose a potential hazard to someone who is older, frailer and less mobile than you.
Some important things to consider are:
Stairs – How are your parents going to be able to manage the stairs? Perhaps they’re perfectly capable of getting up and down the majority of the time, but what about at night? Is there a light switch easily accessible from the landing? Do you have a cat that’s prone to taking naps halfway up the steps? Do the stairs often become a dumping ground for the kid’s toys, books, shoes, piles of clean laundry..
If the stairs are going to be an issue, is there room on the ground floor for them to have their own bedroom? Are there downstairs facilities for them to be able to wash or use the toilet?
If the ground floor is a no-no, do you need to think about a stairlift, a properly secured handrail, or carpeting the stairs?
Access To The Essentials – Your parents are going to need access to a bathroom and toilet, a kitchen area, an area to sit and relax, and a bedroom.
Disability Issues – Do you need to think about wheelchair access? Are your parents hard of hearing or have problems with their eyesight? Do you need to think about safety rails and non-slip mats in the shower and bath? Do you need to have the toilet raised?
3. Think About Your Finances
Any changes you have to make to your home could end up costing a pretty penny – especially if you need to make changes relating to safety because of your parents living with a disability.
There are also the extra costs of food, and utilities (if your elderly parents are home all day while you’re out at work, it’s likely your electricity and water bills will increase), and then, of course, there are the costs you’ll incur if you have to have in-home care for them. Perhaps you’ll need someone to come and prepare a meal for them when you have to work late, maybe they need help with medications that have to be taken when you’re not there, or it could be that they need assistance with bathing or dressing.
If you decide to work less hours, or stop working altogether in order to take care of them, you’re still going to be out of pocket, and so you might have to consider other resources.
Your parent’s pension or savings
A payout from health insurance
Life insurance payout from a deceased spouse
Proceeds from the sale of their house
Your own savings
4.Having A Future Plan In Place
If your parents are currently in good physical and cognitive health, they might need very little help. However, as they get older, they could end up needing more care. It’s best to plan for this in advance.
Will you quit your job once they need more care?
Will you have a qualified carer come in and take care of them while you continue to work?
Will another family member step in?
Will you consider residential care?
Discussing these options with your parents before the time comes to make changes is wise. It will prevent any arguments or upset in the future if everyone is on the same page beforehand.
5.Consider If It Really Is The Best Option
It’s very easy to rush in with a decision in situations like this.
“Of course, Dad will come to live with us! It’s not even a question!”
“I’m not sticking Mum in a home!”
But, before you get caught up in emotion – take a step back and think about whether having your elderly parents move in with you is the best option for everyone – including them.
It’s not a decision that should be made out of guilt or a feeling of obligation…that will only breed resentment and can ruin relationships in the long run.
Care options for your elderly parents are varied, and not grey, cold and unwelcoming. Today, residential homes can be vibrant, warm places, where those who need round-the-clock care can feel safe and at home.
For those who want to stay in their own home, at-home care providers, such as Care In Kent, provide a range of services from running errands to helping with personal care.
If, after considering all of the options and discussing it with those you love, having your elderly parents move in with you is the best cause of action, don’t forget that Care In Kent can be on hand to help – however much or little you need us. Get in touch today to speak to a member of the team and see how our care services could help your loved ones.