When I was a caregiver to my parents, some people faulted me for placing my folks in a retirement community, rather than moving them in with me. But I never felt guilty about my choice. For our family, the arrangement was the best option.
When my mom and dad first needed assistance, I hired caregivers to assist them at home in Miami Beach, even though I remained very involved. But the stress of long-distance care giving and the cost of flying back east for emergencies was steep.
Even so, my husband and I realized we couldn’t accommodate my folks in our home. Eventually, with their agreement, I moved them to an assisted-care facility and later a skilled-nursing care near me in San Diego. Moving your parents in with you is a huge decision and I recommend that adult children and their parents think long and hard about the consequences before making the leap.
First off, no matter how unselfish and caring adult children believe they are being, many parents do not want to give up their independence and move into their child’s household. Surveys show that most want to remain in their own homes as long as possible. And many can do that with the help of a professional home care company and, sometimes, with private caregivers. Some older adults even prefer the relative independence of a retirement community.
Of course, finances are a major issue. Both professional homecare and retirement communities are pricy. But moving parents into your home might not save as much money as you think. First, there’s the potential cost of remodeling your house to make it more comfortable and safer for aging parents, the cost of hiring assistance when you have to work and the cost of cutting back your hours at work or even giving up your job so you can remain home to care for them.
Some families are able to make physical and financial accommodations by pooling their money and buying a bigger house for the multiple generations.
Another consideration is whether parents, adult children, spouses and young children are willing to accept the inevitable lifestyle changes. You need to consider whether you can handle the extra stress, whether your spouse will get along with your parents for an extended time and whether your son or daughter would be willing to give up a bedroom or be happy about moving if necessary.
There’s also the question of whether your parents will feel comfortable with intimate help from a family member or whether parents will be able to live by the rules of your household, such as giving up smoking or drinking.
If you work, you need to think about how your parents will fare at home. You might need to sign up for Meals-on-Wheels or hire home care to ensure their comfort and safety. Even if they don’t need daytime care, they might get lonely, especially if they’re moving away from longtime friends. You might need to look into senior centers and adult daycare to enhance your parents’ social lives.
Besides potential financial savings, there are benefits to combining households. One of them is that you might gain some peace of mind and your parents and children get the chance to interact and know each other better.
Moving your parents in with you is a big step that requires a lot of soul-searching on everyone’s part. This might end up being a reasonable interim solution for you. But you need to plan for the future when they might need more care. And if you believe that moving your parents in with you won’t work for you and your family or your parents don’t want to do that anyway, do not feel guilty about searching for another solution.
Sponsored by Right at Home, In-Home Care & Assistance, www.rahtemecula.com, (951) 506-9628, [email protected]; www.rahnc.com, (760) 690-1147, [email protected] Contact Marsha Kay Seff at [email protected]