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Want to Move Mom or Dad in With You?

Tiffany Smith
July 15, 2011

10 things to consider before making the important decision to move a parent into your home.

After evaluating aging in place options, you may come to the conclusion that your elderly relative or relatives can no longer live alone in their own home. Should they move to your house? How do you know if you and your family can handle full-time caregiving?

The prospect of increasingly dependent elderly relatives moving in generally brings on visceral emotions. Some adults immediately assume that they can handle caring for their parents or grandparents in their elder years, and quickly make plans to expand their households. Others have the opposite reaction, based on financial, emotional or logistical concerns. Either reaction may or may not be correct. Before making a decision-which will affect you, your elderly relatives and your immediate family-consider these issues:

  1. Do you need to modify your home for your parent to move in? Is your home senior safe? Will another family member have to give up their space? If so, have you talked to him or her about it?
  2. How will you handle privacy issues and time for your marriage and children? Are you single-how will you see friends or date?
  3. Have you talked to your spouse/partner? How much care are you expecting them to do and what are they not comfortable doing (bathing, toileting, etc.)?
  4. Will your parent be left alone all day? If so, are they safe? Is there a way to break up their day, such as have visitors? Can they volunteer or go to an adult day program?
  5. Will they need care 24/7? How will you cover the night time? Can they get up to go to the bathroom safely? Do they tend to wander or have memory problems?
  6. If you have children, how will you juggle their activities, care needs and everyday life? How will you handle jealousies or personality differences?
  7. Who else is impacted by bringing your parent into your home? Have you talked with them and asked for their input and encouraged them to voice their concerns? What will be expected of them? How will you handle the emotional side of your parents' illnesses?
  8. Do you have back up people to help you with care and provide respite? Do you have siblings, extended family, neighbors who can pinch hit or champion certain areas if you get overwhelmed or simply need a break?
  9. How will caregiving impact your finances? If you're consolidating two households, can you find ways to cut corners? Will you also be taking over their finances? What insurance or assistance payments do or can they receive? If you have to supplement care out of pocket will you be able to afford it-or will your parent
  10. How much time can you take off work to care for your parent? If or when your parent needs full-time care, will you cut back your hours, take a leave of absence or have to quit your job?

If you're able to address the questions and concerns above you are in good shape to bring mom and dad into your home. However, if any of these questions bring up serious concerns, you may want to pause and consider other options such as assisted living or CCRCs.

Tiffany Smith is the senior associate editor here at Care.com. She has written for All You, Time for Kids and the Boston Globe. And as a former babysitter, she knows a lot about fun games to play with kids. Getting them to eat their veggies -- that’s a different story! Follow her on Twitter at @tiffanyiswrite

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