Even in the closest of families, in the best of circumstances, having a parent move in with your family can cause a significant strain. It is best to be honest about the impact of such an arrangement on you and your family. Talk with your family about the potential new living arrangement and ask how everyone feels about it. Discuss it with your spouse and children and your siblings as well. Ask yourself if you can realistically care for your parent by answering:
Do you have a job, spouse, children, or other family responsibilities that will compete with the care you can give? With all your responsibilities, you must be realistic about how much time you have available for caring for your parent.
Would your parent accept living with you? Some parents want their independence or own space. Just because you think it is a good idea, doesn’t mean they will automatically agree.
Is there enough space? Can your home accommodate your parent? Do you need to make modifications to your home? You may have to install ramps, safety bars, and lift chairs to handle their abilities or have enough space to accommodate a wheelchair. Does your home have a separate room or addition where your parent can have their space? Privacy is essential for both you and them.
Do you know enough about the care needed to help your parent? You must have access to their medical information and their doctors to understand how to provide the best care. Having a Health Care Power of Attorney will help get you the information you need.
What is your relationship with your parent? If you have a troublesome history with your parent, it will most likely not improve with the stress of caring for them. You may resent them, or they may refuse your help. You should be realistic about your family dynamic. In that situation, you might not be the best caregiver for your parent.
Do you have the temperament to be a caregiver? While you may have the best of intentions to care for your parent, you may not be suited to be their best caregiver. It is difficult to accept that you may not be able to handle the stress of caring for an elderly or infirm person, especially if they have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Focus on what is the best solution for your parent. That may ultimately be placing them in an assisted living or nursing home.
What are the increased costs? Estimate what the costs could be in caring for your parent. According to a 2014 study by Caring.com, 46% of family caregivers spend more than $5,000 per year on caregiving expenses. Of that 46%, 30% spend more than 10,000.
What if the parent’s health becomes much worse? As your parent’s health declines, at some point, you won’t be able handle the degree of medical care needed. You will need a Plan B whether that is an assisted living facility, nursing home, or hospice care.
If the decision is made to have your parent move in with you or your family move in with your parent, as is sometimes the case, you should make an agreement that sets out guidelines. Such an agreement might address responsibilities and who pays for certain expenses. Work out an acceptable solution for your parent(s) or other family members to share the costs of the care and living expenses.
And finally have a backup plan. If caring for your parent in your home is too much for you and your family to handle, you should have an alternative. While it may not be your parent’s first choice to go to an assisted living or nursing facility, it may not be as bad as you think. I have a friend whose 85-year old grandmother resisted going into “an old age home.” She lived alone, then with her daughter, but her medical needs required her to be in a nursing facility. She was angry and bitterly fought the move. But after three months of living in the facility, she made friends and enjoyed the social activities and the food. The next time I saw her grandmother, her health was much improved. She told me how much she loved it there. Quite the turnaround!
With honest talks and the right planning, you can make the best of the living situation for all involved.
Catherine Hodder, Esq., estate planning attorney turned author, writes about estate planning issues for the Sandwich Generation on her blog, HodderInk.com. Her book Estate Planning for the Sandwich Generation: How to Help Your Parents and Protect Your Kids is available on Amazon and other booksellers.
Nearly Half of Family Caregivers Spend Over $5,000 Per Year on Caregiving Costs. (2014, September 15). Retrieved from www.caring.com/about/news-room/costs-of-caregiving-2014.